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IOWA CITY — In assessing the scope of faulty windows the University of Iowa discovered were installed in the $392.7 million Stead Family Children’s Hospital five years ago, officials have decided to replace every window in a new bridge connecting the Children’s Hospital with the main UIHC campus.
Officials Wednesday also suggested the possibility they’ll need to replace all windows in the 14-story, 507,000-square-foot Children’s Hospital — not just specific non-inpatient floors, as originally thought — requiring Board of Regents approval for a “construction manager at risk” to coordinate what could be a larger project.
“In that investigation, it is not determined as to whether or not it's all windows,” UI Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz told regents on Wednesday, noting UIHC knows for certain, conversely, that “we'll be replacing all the windows on the bridge.”
“That is not necessarily the case in the design process on the Stead Family Children's Hospital,” he said. “That is why we're requesting by this action engagement of a construction manager at risk, so we can put all of the experts in the room at the start of this process and make sure that it is delivered appropriately and successfully.”
Regents on Wednesday approved a UI request to spend $3.6 million to replace all the bridge windows — part of a larger plan to spend $10 million to $15 million on cracking, delaminated, or blemished windows on what initially was thought to be the bridge and just two floors of the Children’s Hospital, which opened in 2017.
Costs for the bridge-window replacement will be covered through UIHC building use funds, “as the university seeks reimbursement from the responsible parties,” Lehnertz said.
The board OK’d planning for the broader window replacement in April 2021. Regents in November approved spending $771,516 to apply safety film to 77 more windows experiencing delamination. But Lehnertz said Wednesday that construction on the bridge won’t start until September.
Work will come later on damaged Children’s Hospital windows — which UIHC months ago began covering with a protective film.
The university on Wednesday received regent permission to use a “construction manage at risk” delivery method for that larger project, indicating it’s a more complex effort.
“Because it's an existing building and existing systems with which to integrate the final solution, having a contractor not only engaged at the beginning but also responsible … to deliver these methods according to the needs of the university and university hospitals and clinics is of benefit to this specific project,” Lehnertz said.
Answering a regent question about whether the window issues are a result of a design flaw or product flaw, Lehnertz said, “It may be related or both or all of that.”
“We are working with designers, producers, the manufacturers, responsible parties related to this,” Lehnertz said. “We have officials with UIHC and the university working with those responsible parties to one, make sure that what is put in from a replacement perspective is reliable and according to the specifications that we have for performance of the windows, but also looking for the causes and the responsibilities for reimbursement.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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