Columbus architecture firm sues OSU for wrongful termination in medical center expansion project

Karlsberger Architecture Inc. filed the eight-count lawsuit earlier this month, alleging that the university acted in bad faith when terminating its $32 million contract with the firm.

COLUMBUS, Ohio– An architecture firm that was to play a key role in the $1 billion expansion of Ohio State University’s Medical Center has sued the university, alleging wrongful termination and withheld payments.

Karlsberger Architecture Inc. filed the eight-count lawsuit  on Nov.  13 in the Ohio Court of Claims, alleging that the university acted in bad faith when terminating its $32 million contract with the firm, according to a statement from Karlsberger.

A representative of the medical center didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

In September 2008, Karlsberger was awarded a contract to monitor the work and progress of another architectural firm, HOK, charged with designing the medical center’s expansion plans, as well as verify the “constructability” of the other firm’s design, according to the statement.  Then, near the beginning of November, the university terminated Karlsberger’s contract and re-opened the bidding process for the work that the firm was to perform, the statement says.

The suit asks the court to “set aside the termination without cause as null and void,” to pay the outstanding fees and related charges, as well as damages, and to reinstate the contract, according to Karlsberger’s statement.

In September, the university’s trustees approved architecture and construction plans for the so-called “ProjectONE,” a $1 billion building project to expand education, research and care at the university’s medical center. University officials said the project is expected to create as many as 10,000 full-time jobs — 6,000 medical center jobs and 4,000 jobs in the region to support spending by the university and its faculty, staff and visitors – and more than 5,000 construction jobs.

The project is expected to generate $1.7 billion in annual economic impact by 2015. It’s unclear whether Karlsberger’s dismissal and subsequent lawsuit will affect the project’s time line.