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.”
- Previously on Swamplot: Kill It in One Big Boom, Or Piece by Piece?, M.D. Anderson’s Quiet Preservation Effort: Peter Hurd’s Prudential Mural Has Left the Building, Sure Looks Like Demolition This Time: M.D. Anderson Begins Taking Down the Prudential Tower, Will M.D. Anderson’s Contractor Bungle the Largest Fresco Rescue Ever?, The Prudential Tower’s Grand Entrance, Before Its Not-so-Grand Exit, Update: M.D. Anderson Not Demolishing Former Prudential Tower Yet, Just Hacking Away at It a Bit, Report: M.D. Anderson Begins Demolishing Med Center Icon