M.D. Anderson Tower Will Go Out with a Bang

The facilities steering committee at UT’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has decided to demolish what’s left of the institution’s Houston Main Building at 1100 Holcombe Blvd. with several blasts of dynamite — before the end of the year. The announcement in an online employee-only newsletter cited safety concerns for the decision: “Manual demolition with jackhammers and blow torches would expose our employees, our patients, the public and dozens of construction workers to noise, dust and vibration for months. Implosion reduces that exposure to a matter of minutes.”

The 18-story Med Center structure was known as the Prudential Building before M.D. Anderson purchased it from the insurance company in 1975. It was vacated last year, and demo work on the building began this past April. The newsletter announcement also recaps the institution’s explanation for knocking down the structure, which was designed by Houston architect Kenneth Franzheim in 1952 as part of Houston’s first suburban office park:


Basically, it’s tearing itself apart. It’s sinking one side at a time, and the foundation — as well as the exterior limestone and marble — is shifting and cracking. And the cost to renovate HMB to bring it up to current code requirements is not economically feasible for us as a state institution.

“In another location with another owner with deep pockets, the decision might be different,” [Operations and Facilities Management VP Bill] Daigneau said in 2007. “However, it’s not economically, clinically, or mission-wise important for MD Anderson to retain the building.”

Photos: Karen Lantz (top) and Candace Garcia

12 Comment

  • Surprised this wasn’t sold and retrofitted for condos with all the med schoolers, residenciers and other meddies with cash wanting a place to crash nearby after pulling 20 hour shifts. Stack the location, architecture and that sweet rooftop terrace screaming to be a wine bar with a view and it’s quite stupefying theyre gonna raze it. It’s even right off the MetroRail line!

  • Stupefying, indeed.

  • Did you not read the part about the shifting foundation/walls?

  • @StO: Houston is a leader in foundation repair and technology, it’s what happens when you build on swamp lots and have oil money to spend!

  • Med school students and residents do not have enough cash to be able to afford a condo. They are generally renters, and there are oodles of apartments in the area. Also, the heart of the med center doesn’t offer any amenities for residential housing. Just a lot of sick people, traffic and crazy light rail intersections. So, Drs would have no reason to want to live there, except to save 5-10 min off their commute from Rice. And there is a long list of failed and troubled residential high rise developments in Houston. Just not in the cards, even if the rennovation wasn’t cost prohibitive.

  • It will be odd not to see that building mixed in the med center’s sky line. Sorry to see another landmark go.

  • An engineer friend told me that the shifting walls were a direct result of poor design work by the architect Kenneth Franzheim. It was known for years but, insiders protected the property from demolition. I understand that a group is looking in to other structures designed by Kenneth Franzheim and have found similiar concerns and will soon recommend that they be fixed ot also torn down.

  • It’s a cool building, but being that its got such problems, it has to go. I’ll be there for the demilition show. thats always a spectacle now.

  • Boom…Another one bites the dust…or rather gets BLOWN UP !!!! Kaabow….

  • wow, sad to see this building go! My mother worked there when I was a kid and I remember hanging out in the place very vividly. Anyone recall that they used to have a pool?

  • Does anyone know the expected date of demolition? I live near the building and I expect the day is getting close. I don’t want to miss it!

  • Just make sure you are upwind of the implosion. The dust cloud is full of nasties like respirable Silica and Aspergillus.