RIGA - The major reconstruction work on the Latvian National Museum of Art may take about a year longer than anticipated, although the project’s cost will most probably not increase, said Riga City Council Property Department head Olegs Burovs on Feb. 12 in presenting the latest report on the museum reconstruction, reports LETA.
The original plan was that reconstruction of the National Museum of Art complex would be completed by mid-2015, whereas now it is clear that the job will continue until the end of next year or mid-2016. Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) added he hoped that the museum could reopen in November 2015, but Burovs was more cautious in his forecasts, noting that, if no unnecessary haste is made, the museum could reopen on May 4, 2016. Riga City Council could give a more precise date in mid-August.
Also, in order not to lose European Union funds meant for the reconstruction of the museum, Riga City Council will have to turn to the relevant institutions, asking that the project deadline be extended.
Neither the construction companies involved in the project nor the project designers can now say what additional costs may be incurred due to the unforeseen groundwater pressure and cracks in the walls of the historic building. The project was originally estimated to cost 34.1 million euros, but now it is clear that this amount will be exceeded.
Original hydrogeological surveys had erroneously found that there was no groundwater pressure at the site, which is why construction of the facility has encountered a number of unexpected problems.
The higher-than-anticipated ground water pressure led to changes in the project - much more concrete was necessary and of a different quality. Likewise, the shape and number of piles had to be altered.
Burovs said that Riga City Council had turned to the courts to demand compensation from the company which carried out the hydrogeological surveys, while Usakovs said that even if three hydrogeological surveys had been correct, the project would any have fallen behind schedule and the cost estimate would have had to be increased.
Usakovs went on to say that the additional money would be probably taken from the Riga budget for 2015.
In the meantime, construction and reconstruction work continues at the site, with the builders constantly watching the museum’s walls for new cracks. No new cracks have appeared in the walls for about a month now. Also, some of the cracks had already existed but were just plastered over and became visible once the reconstruction activity began.
Overall, about 25 percent of the funds for the project have been used in one year; there are 90 people working at the site on a daily basis. Riga City Council emphasizes that the project has not been halted and that it is overall pleased with the construction companies’ work.
The reconstruction and renovation of the National Museum of Art began in February 2013. The project also envisages construction of an underground two-story facility with restoration workshops, warehouses and three new exhibition halls.