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CSI: Construction

Buildings expert Joseph Lstiburek points out some of the key potential mistakes in the raising of MIT's Stata Center.

Water Damage The black layer is a peel-and-stick waterproof membrane. The blue layer is the stainless-steel outside cladding of the building. The metal skin is applied directly over the waterproofing, whereas there should be both space and insulation between them. This causes condensation, which erodes the wall.

Fishmouthing In the upper-left-hand corner, where a wall of windows meets another wall, the waterproof layer appears to be wrinkling. That's "fishmouthing" of the membranes, caused by inexpert application, which lets in moisture.

Window Leaks The design's multiple windows each provide an opportunity for failure in the wall-to-window connections, one source of the building's leaks. This image, though, doesn't conclusively show whether the connections were handled properly.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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