A reckless contractor and a hapless excavator operator have already been convicted for the roles they played in the June 2013 Center City building collapse that took the lives of six people and seriously injured 13 others.
But Plato Marinakos, Jr., the architect tied to the ill-fated demolition of a four-story building that toppled onto a neighboring Salvation Army thrift shop at 22nd and Market Streets, has notably escaped repercussions thus far.
That could change.
Jay Bryan and Nancy Winkler, who lost their 24-year-old daughter, Anne Bryan, to the horrific tragedy, are pushing to have Marinakos stripped of his architect’s license.
The couple filed a complaint against Marinakos in early December with the state Architects Licensure Board.
In it, they claim Marinakos had allegedly “egregiously violated the standards of professional conduct: by giving kickbacks for commissions, receiving kickbacks for awarding work to a contractor, and most importantly by failing on numerous occasions to exercise due regard for the safety, life and health of the public affected by the professional work for which he was responsible,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Philadelphia magazine.
Bryan declined to comment on the complaint, which calls for Marinakos’ license to be revoked. A message left for Marinakos was not returned.
Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Department of State, said Marinakos has not been disciplined by the Architects Licensure Board. State records show that Marinakos’ license was renewed on June 30th of last year.
The allegations aren’t new to anyone who has followed the building collapse saga. But they are still disturbing — and infuriating.
Marinakos has never been charged with any crimes in connection with the collapse, nor has Richard Basciano, the owner of 2136-2138 Market, the building that North Philly contractor Griffin Campbell was hired to demolish, despite a glaring lack of experience on a project of that size.
The District Attorney’s Office granted Marinakos immunity, and he testified at Campbell’s trial last fall. Campbell testified that he had to pay Marinakos a $5,000 kickback for helping him to land the contract to demolish the properties.
Cameron Kline, a spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said the D.A.’s Office would not discuss the decision to grant Marinakos immunity.
The complaint filed by Bryan and Winkler, who served as city treasurer under Mayor Michael Nutter, claims Marinakos violated a “standards of professional conduct” clause by accepting money from Campbell.
During Campbell’s trial, Marinakos testified that he warned Campbell that an unsupported wall on the skeletal building needed to be taken down immediately — a day before it collapsed. Campbell’s attorney repeatedly asked why Marinakos didn’t alert the Department of Licenses and Inspections to the potential hazard; Marinakos testified that he believed Campbell could resolve the issue.
In their complaint, Bryan and Winkler wrote that Marinakos “did nothing to protect the public,” even though he understood the hazard posed by the unsupported wall, which ultimately crumbled onto the Salvation Army shop below.
Campbell was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in October. Sean Benschop, who operated an excavator at the demolition site, had earlier pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and testified against Campbell.
In January, Campbell was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison, while Benschop was sentenced to 7 and a half to 15 years behind bars. The victims’ families have sued Basciano, Marinakos and others, who will face a civil trial in the fall.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Inga Saffron pointed out that Marinakos has continued to find work as an architect in the wake of the collapse, possibly because the architectural world has look the other way.
A sign for Marinakos’ company, Plato Studio, can be found in the front window of 1722 Chestnut Street, a now-empty property that used to house a Hallmark store on the ground floor. The building is owned by New York-based SG National LLC.
It’s unclear what the company intends to do with the property, or if Marinakos is officially working for them. Steve Huntington, the executive director of the Center City Residents’ Association, said he’s unaware of any proposed projects for the building.
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