Plano ISD postpones grand opening of Robinson Fine Arts Center after finding 'poor workmanship'

Building.
The grand opening of Plano ISD's Robinson Fine Arts Center has been postponed (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)

The grand opening of Plano ISD's Robinson Fine Arts Center has been postponed (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The grand opening of Plano ISD's Robinson Fine Arts Center has been postponed (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
Updated at 2:56 p.m. Dec. 10: This article has been updated to include McCarthy Building Companies Inc. as the construction manager at-risk for the fine arts center project and a statement from Nathan Kowallis, McCarthy senior vice president of operations.

Plano ISD officials say they will delay moving into the new Robbie & Lynore Robinson Fine Arts Center after discovering “significant cracking as a result of poor workmanship and/or design.”

The grand opening for the $67.5 million fine arts center, which was scheduled for mid-January, has been postponed, officials said.

“We will announce a new grand opening date as soon as we are able because we understand the ripple effect this has on our district and community,” Plano ISD Superintendent of Schools Sara Bonser said in a Dec. 9 statement. “Plano ISD students deserve a facility that honors their commitment to the arts, and our goal is to make sure that you, our district and our community, can be proud of our new home for the arts in Plano ISD.”

The 82,200-square-foot facility at 1800 Alma Drive was approved as part of PISD’s $481 million bond referendum in 2016. It was originally expected to be built by late 2019, but weather-related issues delayed the start of construction until April of that year. Inclement weather and pandemic-related complications delayed a previously planned opening for earlier this year, Bonser told Community Impact Newspaper in September.


In an email sent to PISD parents on Dec. 9, district officials said evidence of significant cracking in the floors of the fine arts center building "do not meet the aesthetic standards established by Plano ISD." The email states that PISD does not intend to take occupancy of the facility until "this deficiency” is resolved to the district's satisfaction.

McCarthy Building Companies Inc. was named the construction manager at-risk for the fine arts center project in June 2017. Nathan Kowallis, McCarthy senior vice president of operations, said the construction company is working with the district, the project design team and outside experts to find permanent solutions to the issues identified by PISD and revise the project's timeline.

"We have jointly proposed solutions with the design team and outside experts to address the concerns with the exposed concrete floors, which we believe will allow the building to meet the original design, aesthetic and performance requirements," Kowallis said in a statement. "We remain committed to working with all parties involved to identify a comprehensive solution. Many in our community are looking forward to experiencing this wonderful new facility, and we are working toward a mutually agreeable and timely resolution.”

Earlier this year, district officials said the facility would host hundreds of performance dates each year from PISD’s nearly 23,000 fine arts students in seventh to 12th grades. Events to be hosted at the center would include University Interscholastic League music and theater competitions, concerts, senior high school musicals and shows from outside arts groups, according to district staff.

The facility’s venues include the 1,502-seat Main Stage Auditorium, the black box-style Studio Theater, the Dance/Rehearsal Studio, an outdoor Performance Lawn and the Legacy Gallery art showroom.

PISD Director of Fine Arts Kathy Kuddes previously said operating costs at the center are expected to be between $400,000-$500,000 per year for the district.


By William C. Wadsack

Editor, Plano

William joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2019. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana.