Centennial falling granite: Owner wins suit against designer, sub-con
Court rules against Dragages and Builders Shop; it says cladding was structurally unsafe.
Millenia Pte Ltd, the owner of Centennial Tower, has won its lawsuit against the skyscraper's designer and builder Dragages Singapore and cladding works sub-contractor Builders Shop over the building's granite cladding.
The company had sued for breach of the deed of warranty and a settlement agreement. The breaches have caused Millenia to incur recladding costs and losses arising from the falling of a granite stone panel from the 35-storey skyscraper in Temasek Avenue in 2011.
In a 355-page judgment released on Tuesday, Justice Quentin Loh ruled that Dragages and Builders Shop are liable to Millenia. He found that the cladding installed by Builders Shop "contained serious and substantial defects which rendered it structurally unsafe".
The high court judge noted that the skyscraper was built very quickly - within two years.
"It appears, and if necessary, I find, from the numerous defects, that corners were cut; some of the workmanship was simply poor or bad. "
Justice Loh found that the defective cladding was a result of improper installation, the use of defective materials as well as deviation from the agreed rectification method.
Damages and the costs of recladding, which had been carried out after the commencement of this suit, that Millenia is entitled to would be determined in the next tranche of the proceedings.
But Millenia was unsuccessful in its claims in the "hard-fought" case against the remaining three defendants Meinhardt (Singapore), Meinhardt Faï¿½ade Technology (S) and Arup Singapore.
Dragages was engaged by Millenia in Dec 1995 to design and build Centennial Tower with a design life of 50 years for S$142 million. Dragages then roped in Builders Shop to install over 16,000 granite panels - each typically weighed over 100 kg - on the facade of the skyscraper.
When Centennial Tower was completed in Sep 1997 - considered then "the fastest building structure ever built in Singapore" - Dragages and Builders Shop provided warranties to Millenia for a period of 15 years till 2012.
In 2004, a panel fell off Centennial Tower's faï¿½ade from the 29th storey. While nobody was hurt, this incident prompted Millenia to sue Dragages and Builders Shop in 2006. But the parties reached a settlement in 2007, with the latter two agreed, among other things, to correct the defects using the methods proposed by Meinhardt and approved by Arup.
Four years after the settlement, a second stone panel fell off from the tower. Two passers-by were injured by the debris and there was significant property damage.
Millenia, represented by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh and Lea Woon Yee, commenced legal action against Dragages and Builders Shop as well as the three engineering firms that got involved after the first panel fell off.
Dragages and the other three defendants also made third-party claims against Arup but they were all dismissed. However, Arup's counterclaim for an indemnity from Millenia was successful in respect of the third-party claims it faced over the rectification works.
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