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September 8, 2008



If you're in construction, be afraid of this man. As one of the leading experts on construction cost management, attorney Barry LePatner is on a cross-country crusade to reform the $1.23 trillion construction industry which he says is plagued by constant cost overruns and delays.


When he's not giving lectures on how to solve the construction crisis (he says $120B a year in unnecessary costs), Barry can be found reading his own articles in Legal Times of Washington or representing clients like Goldman Sachs, ConEdison, and Starwood Hotels in building negotiations. Barry takes care of all conversations with contractors and insurance companies, among others. Currently he's dealing with a problem project in the Theater District (he won't name names) that's about to go into arbitration. He's also representing Hewlett Packard in several projects across the country, and in the middle of appeals for his client, The Osborn Retirement Community (the Rolls-Royce of elder care) in Rye. They did a $150M renovation, and Barry's trying to get them back $18M for contractor delays. Some other local clients: high-end retailer Asprey (in Trump Tower) and Barnard College.


Barry's a big collector of architectural drawings, and when we stopped by his office at 600 Lex late last week, he was keen to show us his newest purchase: an original bound edition of the Eiffel Tower plans. We would have liked to take those with us, but we had to settle for a copy of Barry's 2007 book "Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets," a how-to-guide about fixing the construction industry. Part of his reform plan: greater use of fixed-price agreements, less use of oversimplified contracts, and expanding the on-site roles of architects and owner's reps. Barry speculates that by 2030 we'll spend $25 trillion for new construction to accommodate US population growth. He wryly tells us he hopes to have helped upgrade the industry by then.


Barry is a literal Keeper of the Flame, here with a prototype of what's atop the Statue of Liberty, given to him by architects Swanke Hayden Connell and Thierry Despont, who were behind the Statue's Torch renovation of 1980-86. Barry's been working on a new book on America's failing infrastructure. For those of us who cross the Brooklyn Bridge, ignorance is bliss because Barry reveals it's in terrible shape, and that 25% of the country's bridges are in dangerous condition. Barry just finished two chapters while he was on break at his summer home in Nantucket.  He went with his three adult kids and he tells us they had a two-week party with lots of great food and wine, and no construction problems.

Arent Fox
Leo A Daly
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