Got the library — stiff the architects!

Quigley and Tucker Sadler claim the city owes many thousands

Downtown library, completed in 2013
  • Downtown library, completed in 2013

Finding the $185 million to pay for construction of San Diego's Central Library was a constant struggle. The city, which at the time was trapped under a structural deficit, relied heavily on private donors to foot the bill.

As a result, the nonprofit in charge of raising the funds found creative ways to raise cash. At a cost, donors could engrave their names in bricks and have their names etched in glass on the outside of reading and study rooms. San Diego's wealthiest families contributed a large chunk of cash, including a $30 million donation from Qualcomm's Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan, and $2 million from David Copley. Private donations paid for $65 million in construction expenses.

And while the San Diego Public Library Foundation managed to accomplish what at times appeared to be a seemingly impossible task, architects hired by the city are still trying to get paid for their services.

Architecture firms Rob Wellington Quigley and Tucker Sadler spent much of the past two years, since the library opened its doors, pleading with the city to pay the firms over one million dollars in unpaid bills. On June 5, 2014, Quigley and Tucker Sadler submitted a claim to San Diego's Risk Management Department, a precursor to a lawsuit.

The city hired Quigley to provide architectural designs and construction services on October 2, 2000. From that time until March 2014, Quigley and Tucker Sadler expanded the original agreement on ten occasions. In the eighth amendment, which was agreed to on August 19, 2010, the city estimated that construction would last 30 months. Construction delays along with cash shortages slowed the project down. But during that time work continued. According to the claim obtained by the Reader through a public records request, the two architectural firms devoted numerous hours to the project.

"The City's 30-month construction schedule ultimately proved to be grossly understated," reads the June 5, 2014, claim to the Risk Management Department. "Although the substantial completion date under the City's 30-month schedule was February 2013, substantial completion did not occur until July 15, 2013. Consequently, through no fault of [Quigley and Tucker Sadler], the construction administrative services provided by the [firms] and its consultants were extended for a period of five months."

The city continued to rely on Quigley and Tucker Sadler for administrative services. In March 2014, the firms entered into a tenth amendment, agreeing to serve as a consultant on structural engineering issues with the building. The services in the tenth amendment alone were placed at $400,000. As of the date of the claim, the city had only paid $259,318.

"The city's conduct, including its failure to timely and fully perform the Tenth Amendment, gives rise to alternative remedies for the [architecture firms], which may either pursue a cause of action for breach and recovery of the balance of $140,682 due under the terms of the Tenth Amendment, or a cause of action for rescission and recovery of the actual value of the additional services rendered, in the amount of $1,275,181."

After many delays, the library opened in September 2013. City councilmembers were briefed on the claim during an October 5 closed-session meeting. According to the minutes from that meeting, there “was nothing new to report.” Quigley did not respond to a request for comment.

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