Ike blue wall

The blue wall at Eisenhower High School was designed to represent the Yakima River. It runs 750 feet through the center of the building.

The contractor and subcontractors that built a problematic blue wall running through Eisenhower High School will pay $1.1 million to Yakima School District in a settlement agreement.

The settlement puts to rest a lawsuit filed in June 2019 in Yakima County Superior Court alleging breach of contract leading to property damage and substantial repair costs. It comes after a $1.7 million February settlement between the district and the architecture firm that designed the wall.

The settlement lists Graham Construction & Management as the contractor, as well as All Wall Contracting, Leslie & Campbell, Pacific Window Systems and Don Jordan Energy Systems as the four subcontractors.

It does not admit liability by any party, including the school district and local KDA Architecture, according to the settlement. It puts to rest any prior obligations or claims between the various parties.

The Yakima school board approved the settlement in a Tuesday board meeting. The contractor and subcontractors must make payments within 30 days of the settlement agreement. They total $1.1 million, with Graham paying the largest amount at $400,000.

The history of the blue wall

KDA designed the new Eisenhower High School to replace a building that dated back to 1957. The project was completed in 2013 by Graham and its subcontractors and cost roughly $83 million.

A blue wall weaving through the center of the high school represented the Yakima River, and had both interior and exterior elements.

After the project was completed, the lawsuit filed by the district alleged that a water-resistant barrier began melting behind blue stainless steel shingles lining the wall. The protective product had surpassed a 180-degree heat limit, causing the distortion, it claimed.

The maker of the product recommended that it be removed and replaced with an alternative with higher heat capacity of 300 degrees, or that space be left between the protective product and seals.

The higher quality product was instead tucked behind the melted product in some areas and replaced at the base of the wall, the lawsuit says. Another product was also added on top of the melted product for ventilation, since the tiles and melted material had melded together.

In late 2016, continued damage became apparent: Water entered parts of the wall and blistered paint; black mold was discovered near 23 of 26 windows along the wall; and there was damage to insulation, steel framing, wall covers, cement siding and 30% of the decorative blue tiles.

As a result, the district paid at least half a million dollars in repair in 2017. The blue tiles were replaced entirely.

The lawsuit by the district alleged that the damage was created by “errors and omissions” in design and construction. Damages were to be outlined in trial, but the lawsuit is now dismissed under the second settlement.

Reach Janelle Retka at jretka@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @janelleretka