New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU’s yearslong history with the Turner Construction Company

The university hired Turner to construct the Paulson Center months after filing a lawsuit against the company accusing it of building faulty flood protections.
Kiran Komanduri
File photo: The Paulson Center under construction in April 2022. (Kiran Komanduri for WSN)

Just a few months before NYU hired Turner Construction Company — an international construction services firm based in North America — to build the now-completed Paulson Center, the university filed a lawsuit accusing the company of causing over 11 million gallons of water to flood an energy facility in an NYU Langone Health building. NYU recently won a settlement of over $500 million in the lawsuit, which was filed in October 2015.

The university has a long-standing relationship with the construction company. Turner built NYU’s Center For Comparative & Functional Genomics in 2010, and three years after it was sued by the university, the company completed construction on NYU Langone’s Kimmel Pavilion. NYU hired Turner to build the Paulson Center in spring 2015, after seemingly dropping previous plans to include the building in a larger expansion introduced in 2007.

In its initial complaint against the construction company, NYU argued that Turner had “recklessly ignored” to protect the airway between its construction site and the basement of NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center — Energy Building, resulting in over $1 billion in damages from flooding during Superstorm Sandy. The university argued that Turner was under the “care, custody and control” of the $148 million construction project for the Energy Building, and had “a duty to protect the project and surrounding buildings from Sandy’s effects” in the complaint.

The New York City Building Code has required engineers to design protections in flood hazard areas since 2012. In a 2021 memo, NYU said that Turner did not consult an engineer in designing flood protections for NYU Langone’s Energy Building, in violation of the city’s building code. According to the lawsuit, NYU Langone told the company to use plywood, plaster and sandbags to protect the airways, as was used during Hurricane Irene in 2011, and claimed the construction company “ignored” the instructions.

The excessive flooding led to the failure of many other generators at NYU Langone Medical Center and the evacuation of roughly 200 patients — 45 of whom were in critical care at the time. 

In 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave a $1.13 billion grant to NYU Langone Medical Center to aid in repairs after Hurricane Sandy — the second-largest grant for a single project in FEMA history.

Spokespeople for NYU and NYU Langone declined to comment. Turner did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Contact Mariapaula Gonzalez at [email protected].

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