An Unexpected Rainstorm

Talk about a rain out. That’s what happened in the famed Chicago high-rise known as 330 North Wabash. An event planning company was setting up for a shindig when one of its employees inadvertently struck a water sprinkler, setting it off. This was on the 23rd floor, so guess what happened to the 22nd. That’s right, it got soaked. Unfortunately for the event planners, the 22nd floor was not only occupied, but occupied by a powerful law firm. The damage estimate came to an astounding $1.5 million-plus, and the events company is on the hook for the bill. All that according to a recent filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The building’s owner, and the law firm’s insurance provider, jointly filed the lawsuit this summer.

The sprinkler snafu happened back in November 2017 when the event planners were decorating the 23rd floor, which was used for nothing but special events. We can only guess that one of the company’s employees hit the sprinkler with a ladder, or nicked it with his or her shoulder while hanging something from the ceiling. Regardless of how it happened, the employee “affirmatively admitted to striking the sprinkler head immediately before the discharge,” according to the suit.

The damage has apparently been rectified. The law firm still offices in the building designed by famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Now, it seems, it’s time to get the events company to pay for the tab. On the first count of negligence, the building owner is asking for a $508,000 judgement against the events company, and on the second count of negligence, the insurance company is asking for a $1.7 million judgement. That’s a lot of dough, and we can’t help but think that if the requests for judgements are granted, the events company is finished. But think about it. An employee, someone who probably wasn’t making a dime over $20 an hour, caused this catastrophe. By mistake. It’s a crazy world out there, folks. A terrible rainstorm could come from anywhere, even the 23rd floor of a posh office tower in Chicago, and wash everything away.

Eye in the Sky

We all know the use of drones for engineering purposes is growing year by year. With greater technology comes greater application, and that pattern will continue to unfold. As is typical, what was once the purview of a few ultimately blossoms into ubiquity. That’s where we find ourselves with drones, and the process shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. But before looking ahead, let’s look back for a moment.

In 2018, the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Board of Ethical Review considered a case involving some surprise footage captured by an engineer and his unmanned device. This from the NSPE: “During one of Engineer A’s drone inspections for the state Department of Transportation, the drone unexpectedly records an encounter between a law enforcement officer and a motorist that results in the exchange of gunfire.”

The Society’s Board of Ethical Review looked at the case and concluded that the engineer was compliant with the NSPE Code of Ethics in that he brought the drone footage to the attention of both his client and the appropriate law enforcement agency. Good for him. But looking ahead, we can’t help but wonder what interesting slices of life engineers will continue to capture with their drones as the technology works its way deeper and deeper into the AEC industry.

Playing Nice

Remember that case we told you about in May, where a New York photographer sued an architecture firm because the firm used his images in their marketing materials without his consent? That case was settled.

If you know of an interesting or off-kilter story taking place in the AEC industry, please contact C+S at rmassey@zweiggroup.com.

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