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Architects fired from three Medford school bond projects

MEDFORD — A school district architect selection committee disqualified Salt Lake City-based firm Wednesday after it learned the architects who were assigned to three Medford school bond projects misrepresented their qualifications for designing buildings in Oregon, district officials said.

NJRA Architects Inc. had been assigned to design a new Lone Pine Elementary and major renovations at Jackson and Roosevelt elementary schools.

However, a contract had not yet been signed, and the firm had received no payment, district officials said.

NJRA, which has designed several grandiose schools in Utah, is licensed in 18 other states, but its Oregon license was expired when the committee interviewed the firm to qualify them for the district's architect pool, said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long.

"Our understanding was that they were qualified, and subsequently, we found out they were not," Long said. "Our request for proposal was specific about firms meeting all the state regulations in order to be in the pool.

"In this case, we felt we could not move ahead with this firm."

NJRA representatives did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

A week ago, a community member notified district officials that NJRA might not be licensed to work in Oregon, Long said. District officials followed up and confirmed the tip.

"That's the value of when people talk to us," Long said. "Sometimes people have a crucial piece of information that can help us be more effective."

In lieu of NJRA, Portland-based Opsis Architectural and local partner Abell Architectural Group of Medford, were assigned the renovation projects at Jackson and Roosevelt elementary schools. The pair had already been working on projects at Oak Grove and Wilson elementary schools.

Portland-based Mahlum Architects and Ashland-based ADW Inc. will take over the Lone Pine project.

Construction is slated to begin as early as summer 2008 at Jackson and Lone Pine and summer 2010 at Roosevelt.

"Fortunately, our pre-qualification process allowed us to quickly go to the pool and find another architect," Long said. "We don't drop a beat on these projects."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.