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Yakima School District files lawsuit against architects, builder over Ike blue wall

Source:, July 1, 2019
By: Janelle Retka

The Yakima School District has filed a lawsuit against the design and construction companies responsible for the blue wall running through Eisenhower High School for alleged breach of contract leading to property damage and substantial repair costs.

The lawsuit filed last month in Yakima County Superior Court names Graham Construction & Management, a Canadian firm with a Seattle office, and Yakima-based KDA Architecture as the defendants.

The architecture firm designed the Eisenhower High School campus, which was completed in 2013 to replace a campus dating back to 1957, and Graham was the contractor. The entire project cost the school district roughly $83 million.
A blue wall weaving through the center of the main building, designed to resemble the Yakima River, is a prominent design feature in the project. It has interior and exterior elements.
Upon completion of the new campus, the lawsuit alleges that a water-resistant barrier installed behind blue wall tiles began melting behind blue stainless steel shingles, which had surpassed the 180-degree heat limit of the protective product.
The maker of the water-resistant barrier recommended it be removed and replaced by an alternative version with a heat capacity of 300 degrees, or that space for ventilation be created between the shingles and the protective product.
But the tiles and melted material had become inseparable, according to the lawsuit. So KDA recommended that the higher-quality product be “tucked” behind the melted product in places and replaced it at the base of the wall, and that a new product be installed on top of the melting material to create ventilation, it says.
By late 2016, “severe flaws in … design and construction, and resultant property damage, became apparent,” it says. Water entry through various parts of the blue wall had damaged structure and interiors of the school, such as blistering paint. Most damage was found “at or adjacent to windows along the Blue Wall.”

Black mold was found near 23 of 26 windows along the wall.
An independent consultant’s investigation also found damage to insulation, steel framing, wall covers, cement siding, roughly 30 percent of the decorative blue tiles, and the material added to the wall to create ventilation, among other things.
This resulted in at least half a million dollars in repairs by the district in 2017.
The lawsuit alleges that the damages are “attributable to both design and construction errors and omissions” and requests damages from both companies to be outlined in trial, legal compensation and interest.
KDA representatives declined to comment Monday. Neither Graham representatives nor Yakima School District representatives responded before press time.

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