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The Polk County Courthouse: A $47 Million Iaq Disaster.

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.474.1 - 1.474.6

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Sarah Lynn Garrett

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

I .— - Session 2206 . . ..-.

The Polk County Courthouse: a $47 million IAQ disaster.

Sarah Lynn Garrett, AIA Kansas State University

Overview The Polk County Courthouse was completed in 1987 in central Florida at a cost of $27 million. After four years of occupancy, 80% of its inhabitants complained of sick building syndrome. Over 100 people have been diagnosed with building related illness. A handful of people have been diagnosed with a permanent, debilitating, and sometimes fatal lung inflammation. All of these complaints stem from exposure to bioaerosol contaminants; mold, mildew, and bacteria. The excessive mold growth was caused by a leaky building envelope, misplaced vapor barrier, and negatively pressured building. The building was abandoned and repairs were begun in 1991. Repairs are nearing completion, and the costs continue to escalate. Not including the original Contract Amount, the cost of repairs to date is $47 million. While certainly significant, the direct physical causes for this building failure tell only half the story. This presentation and paper describe both the physical causes of the disaster and the project environment surrounding this case.

Project Background and History The Site The site is in central Florida, some 40 miles south of Disney World in Polk County. The industries in this county are primarily phosphate, citrus, and tourism. In the years of the explosive growth accompanying the development of Disney world and the theme park region surrounding it, Polk County’s population grew from under 200,000 to 423,000. The largest city in the county is Lakeland, with a population of 208,000. The county seat is Bartow, a sleepy country town of 15,000. Although Bartow itself has been largely unaffected by the tourism boom, it still must provide the services required of a county seat for an area that has experienced Bartow \ very rapid growth. The Building The building was designed and built with a ten story core, with two three story Gulf of wings running east and west. Floor to floor height Mexico is slightly more than 14 feet. The structure is a concrete frame with two-way slabs, CMU infill, and brick veneer. Originally the 3 in 12 pitch roof was finished in ‘Spanish’ tile. The HVAC system is a classic four pipe, hot and chilled water with remote . variable air volume air handlers. The new courthouse _@

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Garrett, S. L. (1996, June), The Polk County Courthouse: A $47 Million Iaq Disaster. Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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