University mulls lawsuit against Gehry building subcontractors

By Katie Wagner, Staff Writer
   Princeton University may take legal action against subcontractors that have pleaded guilty to charges regarding their work on the Peter B. Lewis Library.
   In May, a federal prosecutor in Trenton informed the university that a principal owner of Macedo Construction had entered guilty pleas in connection with the library’s construction, said university spokeswoman Cass Cliatt. Since that time, the university has learned of representatives of three additional subcontractors who plead guilty to charges involving the university construction project, Ms. Cliatt added.
   Macedo Construction and the other three subcontractors were engaged in the project under the supervision of a construction manager of a non-university company, Ms. Cliatt said. The construction manager’s company was contracted by the university’s Department of Facilities, Ms. Cliatt said.
   Construction of the Lewis Library, located on Washington Road and designed by Frank Gehry, was begun in 2004 and originally scheduled for completion in the fall of 2006. In 2006, the firm that was overseeing construction, Skanska USA Building Inc., based in Parsippany, was removed from the project and replaced by New York City-based Bar & Bar, according to university spokeswoman Emily Aronson.
   Ms. Cliatt said the university’s decision to remove Skanska from the project had nothing to do with the guilty pleas, but was done because the university had not been satisfied with the firm’s performance. She added that Skanska was the construction company working on the project at the time that Macedo had been working on the Lewis Library as a subcontractor.
   The university has scheduled the official opening of the new 87,000-square-foot science library — funded by a $60 million gift by Progressive Insurance Co. Chairman Peter Lewis, a 1955 Princeton graduate — for the fall.
   No university employees were involved in the criminal activities related to the library’s construction, Ms. Cliatt said. She declined to provide the names of the individuals who made the guilty pleas or the other subcontractors.