Discussion: View Thread

  • 1.  SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 14 days ago
    You may all have received this note from the AIA today. The note contains no information on the matter in dispute, a matter of critical importance to those of us under the impression that our professional society exists primarily to protect the health, welfare and society of the public at large. Far from the "AIA's highest priority [being to] ensure that our time in Chicago is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience it can be for the entire AIA community" surely life safety should be the prime concern. Our association does not do itself any favors by appearing to be more concerned with the comfort of its members than the lives and well-being of the public.
    Here is an article from the Guardian that outlines the main points of the dispute (without prejudice). The Grenfell Tower disaster was a major event in Britain, in which 72 lives were lost in a fire in 2017, affecting mainly lower income people. Since in the US many high- and medium-rise buildings are being retrofitted with insulated cladding it would be as well for us to remain informed of the issues at stake. One may disapprove of SMART's tactics but it is to their credit that they are forcing a reluctant industry to face some unpleasant facts. This is all good and "green" until it isn't. 

    As we gather for the AIA Conference on Architecture 2022 in Chicago, we want to provide you with a brief update on the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation (SMART) Union. As you may know, SMART is at odds with Kingspan, an AIA corporate partner, and has been attempting to bring AIA into their dispute for months. Our good faith attempts to discuss the matter with SMART led to AIA being quoted out of context in their messaging. SMART further declined AIA's invitation to discuss product safety protocols related to their claims. 

    As a separate matter, SMART's reported disruptive actions related to their complaint against Kingspan at various recent industry events led AIA to inform them that they would not be permitted to exhibit or attend in 2022 to ensure a positive experience for conference attendees. 

    As a result, SMART is attempting to reach out to you, our members, and we question the sincerity of their motives. We further suspect they may attempt to gain access to our conference attendees. Please know we are monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as necessary.

    AIA's highest priority is ensuring that our time together in Chicago is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience it can be for the entire AIA community.

    Sincerely,
    Renée Byng Yancey
    Chief External EDI Officer

    --
    HUBERT MURRAY FAIA | 204 ERIE STREET CAMBRIDGE MA 02139
    T | 617.492.3532     M | 617.794.4600


  • 2.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 12 days ago
    This appears to be a dispute between Kingspan ("Kingspan Group, which began as an engineering and contracting business in 1965 in Ireland, has since grown into a global company with more than 15,000 employees focused on green insulation and other sustainable building materials. Its mission is to "accelerate a zero emissions future with the wellbeing of people and planet at its heart.") and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) union, regarding both unionization efforts as well as alleged working conditions at Kingspan manufacturing plants and facilities. 

    https://inthesetimes.com/article/kingspan-workers-air-pollution-grenfell-tower-labor-environment

    I have not found anything regarding AIA's involvement in this other than as part of AIA's sustainability and green efforts, there may be some formal/informal/tangential relation to AIA. This is a typical union effort to drag in unaffiliated third parties in the hopes of pressuring one side or the other, including picketing, social media, etc. of the third party locations and media sites. 

    I'm not sure that AIA owes us any further explanation and may not want to as any response proves awareness of AIA regarding the matter and further drags AIA into a write-response-response-response cycle.  


    ------------------------------
    Arlen Solochek, FAIA
    Owner/Principal/Founder
    Arlen Solochek FAIA, Consulting Architect
    Phoenix, AZ
    ArlenSolochek@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 11 days ago
    Arlen has it correct - SMART is trying to rope AIA into their dispute with Kingspan on unionization.  SMART also sent out a faux e-mail survey on satisfaction with AIA and their services.  Do not complete it or facilitate SMART.

    ------------------------------
    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute
    Best Answer

    Posted 9 days ago

    I am not sure what the dispute between the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Union (SMART) and Kingspan is based on, but reference is made to the Grenfell Tower fire in London.  Some background information may be useful to inform the discussion.

    The Grenfell Tower is a 27 storey publicly owned apartment building located in west London.  In June 2017 a fire was started in a fourth-floor apartment by a faulty kitchen appliance and rapidly spread along the exterior cladding.  The entire building was rapidly engulfed in flames and burned for over two days.  Seventy-four people were killed making this the worst residential fire in the UK since WW II.

    The Public Inquiry found the building had been reclad in aluminum compost material (ACM) insulating panels manufactured by Kingspan.  The recladding work was completed in 2016.  The Inquiry found numerous failings with the recladding work.  This included the procurement process, poor maintenance by the building owner, and procedural problems with the London Fire Department.  Most disturbing and relevant to this discussion, the Inquiry found Kingspan falsified the fire testing of its ACM panels.  This wasn't just a rouge test or engineer that produced a false report.  Apparently, this came from the top management of the company who knew their panels did not satisfy the relevant test requirements.  This was a concerted effort to provide false information to the design and construction industries.  This ruse went on for over 15 years and the Inquiry discovered Kingspan management used fear and intimidation among its staff to perpetuate this falsehood.  Criminal charges are expected to be filed against Kingspan at the conclusion of the Inquiry. 

    The Grenfell Tower disaster has had a negative and profound impact on our profession in the UK.  The Building Safety Act was rushed through parliament and enacted this past Spring.  It will be some time before the full impact of this legislation is known, however, a few of the issues are:

    • The statute of limitation for architects' liability has been increased from 6 years to 15 years. The government originally was asking for 30 years!
    • A new safety regime is in place for buildings over 18 meters tall. This imposes new and significant management issues and liabilities on architects.  Failure to comply can result in a jail sentence.
    • A significant increase in the cost of architects' professional indemnity insurance.
    • The effective elimination of the use of ACM panels in residential buildings.

    There are also significant costs to society as there are thousands of buildings in the UK clad in ACM that requires replacement.  Replacing these in publicly owned buildings is costing the taxpayers billions of pounds.  And private owners of apartments and condominiums in such buildings can't sell them and are faced with spending their life savings in order to make the appropriate repairs.

    The AIA banned SMART from our recent convention to "ensure that our time in Chicago is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience it can be".  This looks to me like the AIA is "shooting the messenger".  Why?  Perhaps Kingspan had a larger space rented at the exposition than SMART.

    It would be prudent for the AIA to separate itself completely from Kingspan until this matter is resolved.  We can do this by removing Kingspan as an accredited education provider, not accepting Kingspan advertising in AIA publications, and not renting space to them at the convention exposition. 

    SMART's goal may be unionization or some other grievance we can speculate on, but they should be thanked for bringing Kingspan's failings  to our attention.  Now, what will the AIA do about this? 

    Michael Lischer FAIA ARB
    Principal

    Sport Concepts

    London, England

     

       



    ------------------------------
    Michael Lischer FAIA
    Sport Concepts
    Beaconsfield
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 9 days ago
    Michael,
    I am familiar with the Grenfell Tower tragedy and most of the subsequent actions. The AIA Board of Directors have already made their decision regarding its relation with Kingspan - I do not entirely agree with it, but it is what it is.  And yes, SMART is seeking AIA's imprimatur for all of their objectives - something AIA is not willing to do. As a private organization, AIA has the right to determine who does and does not get to participate in their conferences.
    I would suggest addressing your concerns to Dan Hart, AIA President, and Lakisha Woods, AIA EVP/CEO.

    ------------------------------
    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 9 days ago
    Edmund,
    You are of course correct that the AIA is a private organization but it is one with a responsibility to the public. While the AIA may not yet have reached a conclusion on the matter of Kingspan's alleged transgressions in the testing of its materials, it should at the very least alert its members as to what the issues are. By not doing so they raise the issue as to whether we are a professional institution whose main purpose is to protect the public - or the manufacturers of building materials.
    --
    HUBERT MURRAY FAIA | 204 ERIE STREET CAMBRIDGE MA 02139
    T | 617.492.3532     M | 617.794.4600





  • 7.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 9 days ago
    Hubert,
    I don't disagree, but again, take it up with the Board.  Better yet, take it up with BSA - local chapters can certainly take their own stances.

    ------------------------------
    Edmond Gauvreau, FAIA
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: SMART / Kingspan dispute

    Posted 8 days ago
    yes Friday. Thanks 

    ------------------------------
    Gerald Cowart FAIA
    Cowart Group, P.C.
    Savannah GA
    ------------------------------