In 1989, Gateway realized there was water damage to their building. They accused Hess of failing to construct underground drainage facilities in accordance with the contract, and tried to recoup money from Hess and others associated with the project.
The case made it to the state Supreme Court, and, according to documents on the case, Hess declared bankruptcy in 1991 during the proceedings.
TAG Architects designed the commission building. In March of 1983, Design Coordinator Norman Krecke told the Daily Mail about the building's longevity.
"This is a building we expect to last for 50 to 100 years," Krecke said at the time. "You design differently for a building of that life."
At the time, architect Tag Galeyan Jr. owned the firm. Galeyan now lives in Lewisburg and runs a successful company that designs luxury hotels across the country.
In a phone interview Wednesday, he was surprised to hear about the condition of the commission building's facade.
"It was a beautiful building that we were very proud of," he said.
Galeyan wasn't sure why there would be a problem, and said he had not see the report detailing the issues. He guessed if the brick is failing, it probably has something to do with water damage; it says in the report that's part of the problem.
It was the first time he had worked with Hess on a project, he said. In 1985 Galeyan sold TAG Architects to the employees and moved to Lewisburg. They moved the company to North Carolina, where it later failed, he said.
He's lived away from Charleston since then, but he's seen his building, and he's not happy.
"I've driven by it a few times, and I always get upset with how its not being maintained," Galeyan said.
He said it's dirty and the trees on the grounds aren't maintained very well. But brick should not be in danger of falling off a building that's less than 30 years old.
"Yeah, that building should be there until the end of time. If you maintain it," he said.
Swanke and CAS presented three recommendations for the facade and one for the arch in their report. The first is more of a non-option: they say repair of the existing masonry is "not feasible."
They suggest either removing the existing brick and starting over or replacing the brick on the second and third floors with a glass wall. Both involve plenty of time and money.
The first option means removing and replacing 20-foot segments of brick; installing new flashing, new reinforcement and new windows; and completely rebuilding all 10 arches around the top of the building's exterior.
That's all assuming the concrete block behind the facade isn't in poor repair, the report states. If it is, then it would have to be repaired or replaced as well.
"We suspect the disruption to the workplace resulting from this scenario would be also be (sic) extensive and could take easily twice as long as the (glass wall option)," the report states.
The glass wall option might take less time, but the report states it will also cost more. In this case, a contractor would remove most of the brick and replace it with a glass curtain wall.
Swanke and CAS seem to lean toward this option. While they admit it costs more, they say it would save time and could potentially save energy costs through improved natural lighting for the building.
The commission recognizes there is a problem with the facade, said spokeswoman Susan Small. They do not believe the building itself is structurally deficient.
To that end, Small provided a statement from John Strickland, a project manager with Maynard C. Smith Construction, which says "it is our opinion based on construction experiences, that the PCS building is structurally sound without settlement or other issues of concern related to the building's competence."
The commission is moving forward with possible solutions to fix problems highlighted in the Swanke and CAS report, Small said.
"We are currently working with the State Purchasing Department on an Expression of Interest in order to provide architectural/engineering services to further develop the various options recommended in the Final Conditions Assessment Report provided by our architect."
An expression of interest is a call for companies to submit plans that further develop the potential options Swanke and CAS recommend. The plan would develop 35 percent of those options; from there, the state would bid out the actual construction.
The company that wins that bid would work with the design firm that wins the expression of interest to complete the final design for whatever fix is determined to be the best.
The expression of interest went out June 28. They'll open the expressions of interest July 16, according to the paperwork. The company who wins this bid has 120 days to complete the design work, according to the parameters of the expression of interest.
Diane Holley Brown, spokeswoman for the Department of Administration, said the department does not comment on how much projects are expected to cost, in the hopes of receiving the most competitive bids possible.
The expression of interest includes language from state code for submitting information on projects estimated to cost more than $250,000. Holley Brown said that is not uncommon for an expression of interest document.