State revokes license of firm that built Library Gardens, site of fatal balcony collapse

The balcony at the former Library Gardens building in downtown Berkeley that collapsed in June 2015, killing six. Photo: David Yee

California has revoked the license of the contractor that oversaw the construction of the former Library Gardens building, where a balcony sheared off June 16, 2015, sending six people to their deaths.

Segue Construction of Pleasanton will not be allowed to operate in the state for five years, according to a stipulated settlement between the construction firm and the state that goes into effect May 19. The decision comes after California said that Segue “willfully departed from or disregarded building plans or specifications, and willfully departed from accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike construction in the building of the Berkeley apartment complex.”

The state accusation that Segue signed off on essentially stated that Segue did not follow the building plans for the apartment complex. Segue, which hired subcontractors to build and waterproof the balconies at 2020 Kittredge Ave. (since renamed K Street Flats) neglected to use pressure-treated wood on the joists holding up the balcony that sheared off. Instead, the company used an inferior composite that was expressly prohibited in the plans. It also neglected to wrap the wood in a waterproof membrane.

Between October 2005, when work on the balconies began, and August 2006, when the balconies were completed, 38 inches of rain fell in Berkeley, according to the accusation the state filed against Segue. A post-accident inspection found that the supports to the balconies were rotted through, presumably because Segue had not constructed them properly.


“Design and load analysis of the balcony established that if the balcony had been built as designed, the imposed load of the 13 students was well within the design limits of the balcony structure,” reads the legal document.

Segue could not be reached for comment. The phones at its Pleasanton headquarters appear to have been disconnected.

Two Segue principals will reimburse the Contractors State License Board for its costs for investigating the deadly accident, according to a press release. Kirk Alan Wallis, Segue’s president and CEO, will pay $99,950 and David Michael Dunlop, another officer, will pay $15,000. If either of them wants to get back into the construction business or associate with another construction firm, they will have to put up a disciplinary bond with CSLB for between $15,000 and $150,000, according to the settlement.

Segue, which got its state license in 1992 and constructed more than 6,000 multifamily units during its existence, has been fined and sued in connection with its work in other locations, according to documents reviewed by Berkeleyside.

The six young people who died due to the collapse of a balcony at the building constructed by Segue (clockwise, from top left): Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke, Ashley Donohoe, Lorcán Miller, Eoghan Culligan and Nick Schuster. Photos via Facebook

In June 2015, an Irish woman who had come to Berkeley to work for the summer was celebrating her 21st birthday with friends in her apartment at Library Gardens. Thirteen people were on the balcony when it sheared off. The six who died were Ashley Donohoe, 22, from Rohnert Park; and Olivia Burke, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcán Miller, all 21 years old and from Ireland.

The families of those killed or injured in the collapse have filed a total of 12 lawsuits in Alameda County Superior Court claiming that Segue used inferior wood to build the balcony that collapsed, and allowed it to be saturated by rain before enclosing it. The suits are pending.