Kinkead Building worst building state ever built
It’s the worst building the state of Nevada ever built, so bad the former head of Buildings and Grounds tried to condemn it.
Engineers say it probably wouldn’t survive a major seismic event.
And those who work there have filed a stack of complaints about the hazards of its sloping floors, falling pieces of concrete and other problems.
So it’s understandable that some state workers were mighty upset at a last-minute legislative decision canceling construction of a replacement for the Kinkead Building.
“I think it’s the worst building the state ever built,” said Mike Meizel, who retired a year ago as head of Buildings and Grounds. “For years we tried to get that building condemned because we thought it was unsafe in a lot of ways.”
Workers in Human Resources and the Department of Information Technology have complained for years.
But they pretty much quieted down this year because high on the governor’s list of proposed construction projects was a new state office building on South Roop just north of Nevada Department of Transportation.
When that project was killed – and the $22 million for it put into a math and science building at University of Nevada, Reno supported by Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio – the Nevada Appeal received a number of e-mails from irate state workers.
“This is ridiculous,” wrote one. “The same thing has happened for two sessions now.”
“What are they waiting for?” another worker asked. “When this building falls apart, there will be a lot of tragic deaths that could be avoided.”
And one writer complained about the money university officials spend on lobbyists – “some of whom are former Legislative Counsel Bureau employees who have the money committee chairman’s ear.”
Public Works Manager Dan O’Brien – whose offices were in the Kinkead Building until earlier this year – said he shares the frustration of those workers. He confirmed the replacement building has been cut from the budget twice now.
“In my office, you could drop a ball in one corner of the room and watch it roll to the opposite wall,” he said.
All those issues were documented in a 2004 study by the engineering and architecture firm of Blakely, Johnson & Ghusn of Reno.
Gov. Kenny Guinn said replacing Kinkead should be a top priority next session, even though he will be out of office.
“I’ve got a book about the Kinkead Building like this,” he said indicating a stack of documents at least a foot thick.
“I’ll certainly leave well-documented recommendations in the folder to make sure it’s a number one priority.”
Guinn said Director of Administration Perry Comeaux asked lawmakers to make sure there is contingency money available should the state have to abandon Kinkead.
“His concern was that if we have to move out, they should allocate funds to relocate,” said Guinn. “We wanted that on the record.”
Meizel said there have been problems since Kinkead was completed in 1975.
“They had to repour some of the original footings on it before it was even completed,” he said. “The minute it was built, we started having problems. We got a design of a building that was really a cheapie.”
He said the floors started tilting, the windows leaked and pieces of concrete supports in the building’s core started breaking off.
“If you had a real strong southwest wind in a storm, you could feel the spray three or four feet in,” he said.
That was finally fixed 15 years ago by removing and resealing all the windows.
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system wasn’t designed for a high occupancy building and has never been able to handle the load.
Electricians discovered two years ago that big fans designed to provide fresh air to the stairwells in case of fire were never hooked into the emergency fire system. That has since been fixed.
Over the years, several large pieces of concrete have broken free and fallen from the thickened supports beneath those floors. One would have fallen through the suspended tile ceiling into an office area had it not landed on some electrical fixtures. There are several other places in the building where pieces of concrete are slowly separating from the ceilings.
“My feeling was it was such a poor building that even if there wasn’t a new building to move to, it should go,” said Meizel. “It’s a horrible building.”
State Risk Manager Due Dunt said her office has been working with employees in Kinkead. A number of complaints have been filed because the sloping floors and other problems make it impossible to sit and work comfortably. Some employees complain of back problems among other things.
“We’re working with DOIT to purchase a significant amount of ergonomic equipment for the people on that floor, including chairs that can lock into positions,” she said.
“I can understand the employees being upset because they pretty much looked forward to being allowed to move out soon,” she said.
But unless the building is condemned, those state workers will have to stay there at least another two years plus whatever time it takes to build a new office structure in Carson City.
n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.