Since it was completed in 2008, Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light has been hailed as an architectural marvel, but the same design and construction that has drawn such praise is also at the center of a legal dispute over defects including cracking concrete, faulty plumbing and other flaws that have caused damage to the cathedral complex.
The Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay, the incorporated owner of the cathedral, alleges in a complaint filed in the Superior Court of Alameda County that the companies involved in the design and construction of the cathedral complex — a $175 million project — were responsible for various “design and/or construction defects and damages.”
The alleged flaws include tearing drywall throughout the chancery (church offices), damage to various doors and entries throughout the cathedral, cracking of concrete walls and walkways, and the misalignment of ceilings, walls and pipe hangers — all of which, the diocese says, is putting stress on the piping throughout the complex. Water intrusion has caused damage to the cathedral’s below-grade parking structure, the chancery kitchen, Parish Hall, chancery office and mechanical rooms, according to the complaint.
The complaint was originally filed in August 2014 against builders and architects involved in the project, including architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Webcor Construction, Blue’s Roofing and Kendall-Heaton Associates, as well as a slew of subcontractors, designers, suppliers, builders and others it refers to as “Does 1-100” in the original lawsuit.
Several involved entities, including Webcor, filed cross-complaints, according to court documents. Webcor’s cross complaint alleges that its subcontractors should be responsible for fixing the damage if the court finds the diocese’s claim is valid. Some of those subcontractors subsequently filed cross-complaints invoking clauses in their contracts that they say indemnify them against claims like the lawsuit.
A court-appointed special master has tentatively scheduled a mediation to occur among the parties involved in the lawsuit in late 2017 or early 2018, after “necessary information” has been gathered, according to a letter published in June on the Diocese of Oakland’s website by Vicar General George Mockel, who is also president of the Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay.
The construction of the cathedral complex itself cost a hefty sum — a total of $175 million by the time it was completed in 2008. At the start of the diocese’s “Reclaiming Christ’s Mission Together” capital campaign in 2015, the diocese had amassed $114.7 million in bond debt, in part from the construction of the cathedral and other costs.
Full story at Mercury News.
To read previous CalCatholic articles about the problems with the Oakland Cathedral, please see “Big problems at Oakland chancery” and “Problems at Oakland Diocesan Cathedral Center remain unresolved“.