Explosives Demolish San Pedro Building

It was the end of an era in many ways. For the first time in 12 years the City of Los Angeles allowed explosives to be used in the demolition of a 12 story building in San Pedro.

On an early Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2006 American Wrecking inc., a nonunion demolition contractor that specializes in commercial, industrial, residential and military projects and explosive demolition, specialist Jim Redyke of Dykon Explosives Demolition, Corp., Tulsa, OK, worked together to bring down the first high-rise built in San Pedro.

The lift-slab-constructed steel frame concrete building was built in the 1960’s. The unique feature of this 40-year old building was the lift-slab floor system. Two heavy 20-ft tall steel roof trusses with W14x184 plf chord beams were supported on two of two rectangular concrete core structures. In turn, all of the concrete lft-slab floors were suspended from the upper steel trusses.

“When inspecting the building’s exterior it appeared to be a normal steel frame building, but once inside, two of my standing rules were confirmed. Nothing in the demolition business is normal and appearances are deceiving,” states AWI Vice President Robert Hall.

The framework of the building is supported at the roof level instead of the bottom level, making it difficult to demolish without the use of explosives. AWI came to this determination during its inspection. Consideration was also given to the fact that a portion of the tower was approximately 40 ft from a Northrop Gruman office building and parking structure, which left little room for error.

Jose Galaviz of AWI elaborates by stating that the building support system is set on the top level. Typically, when a building is torn down floor by floor, the top floor is the first to be removed. Due to the unusual construction of the building, which lacked the standard support system, the strategically placed explosives would allow the building to be brought down in a controlled manner.

“If we had demolished the building floor by floor as it is usually done, it would potentially have put people in harm’s way,” states Galaviz.

Before AWI could start structural demolition and preparation for the explosives, hazardous materials had to be removed. Under a separate contract, asbestos was removed from the building by an abatement contractor, paving the way for AWI to begin preparation for Dykon’s portion of the explosive demolition.

After portions of the lower concrete core were opened and the truss beams and the steel hanger straps prepared, Dykon’s Redyke, placed the explosives in accordance with his pre-approved plan. Dale H. Curtis, a California-registered civil engineer with Curtis Engineering Corp., is proud to have been a member of the team effort for services provided to American Wrecking and Dykon for the many permits required by the City of Los Angeles, the local clean-air and other agencies, and the City of Los Angeles Fire Dept.

Hall of AWI and Redyke of Dykon have worked on various projects for the past 35 years so there was complete confidence and faith that the engineering demolition plan woulld be a success. Dykon’s plan entailed cutting specific-sized openings in the concrete tower walls, cutting truss beams for shaped charges and cutting floor joist behind the east tower. Prior to Dykon’s portion of the project, AWI demolished the one-story steel structures attached to the 12-story building.

The day after the building came down, debris was removed, which consisted of recyclable materials such as concrete and steel. The cleanup proceeded rapidly with the use of four excavators-one with a hydraulic hammer, another with a shear, another with with a pulverizer and finally a bucket and grapple. The debris was then hauled three miles and dumped at a crusher site and the steel was hauled to a scrap dealer in the harbor.

This project caused a bit of excitement in many ways because of the unique design of the building. It was one of the first earthquake resistant buildings in the Los Angeles area to be brought down with explosives. The interest in the implosion brought serveral news crews to film the implosion. One of these was WAG TV from London, England, associated with the Discovery Channel. It plans to air a show later in the year with this building and an interview with the blasting team as their focus.

If you are looking for commercial demolition services in San Pedro, CA, ask us about our historical demolition we have done in the area.


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