Glenstone Museum’s Pavilions expansion. Photo: Glenstone Museum/Iwan Baan.

Contractor Sues Glenstone Museum for $24M for “Disorganized” Expansion Plans

One month before the opening of the eagerly-awaited expansion of Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, the contracting firm that oversaw the $200 million project is suing the private museum’s foundation for $24 million in damages brought on by a “torrent of changes” that they say disrupted work and caused nine hundred days’ worth of delays, according to the New York Times. Hitt Contracting Inc. filed the suit on August 30, claiming that a breach of contract and clumsy management impeded progress on the construction of the expansion, which adds a dozen-room, 204,000-square-foot concrete temple called Pavilions to the museum, whose collection of postwar art is among the country’s largest and most treasured. Apart from new exhibition space, the expansion also includes two cafes, a bookstore, and two hundred and thirty acres of landscaped pastures, woods, and streams. 

The museum, founded by billionaire businessman Mitchell Rales and his wife Emily Wei Rales in 2006, announced the major revamp in 2013, and Hitt joined as construction manager in March 2014, allegedly facing “challenges caused by the defendant’s disorganized contract administration.” According to Hitt, Glenstone made more than 2,400 changes across the duration of the project but failed to be transparent about the cost and timeline changes these brought about. The lawsuit argues that this led to extra costs for the company and the its subcontractors.

Responding to a statement from Hitt that asserted the lawsuit was about “being paid for work that’s already been put in place,” the foundation said, “We will not comment on pending litigation, except to say that we look forward to responding to these claims vigorously in court, where we are confident they will be found to be without merit.”

On Tuesday, the museum announced it would begin taking reservations to visit the museum, which opens October 4. “After years of planning and building, we’re excited to reach this moment when we’re ready to share so much more of the Glenstone collection with the public,” Emily Wei Rales said in an online news release. “We look forward to welcoming visitors soon to our fully realized vision of art, architecture, and landscape combined in a single experience.”