09/20/11 9:15am

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:


09/19/11 11:13am

If 2 office buildings go down in a cloud of dust in what looks like a forest, will anybody see it? In Houston, certainly — and so many onlookers have been kind enough to upload their own demolition videos, too. So here you go: vids of this weekend’s Controlled Demolition implosion of 2 unloved former Hewlett Packard office buildings at the future Lone Star College University Park campus near Hwy. 249 and Louetta. A much longer video from Hewlett Packard here features details and interviews.


12/20/10 3:40pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SOUND OF SUGAR SHAKING OUT OF SUGAR LAND “I’m going to assume that the building is no longer since at 7:01am [on Sunday] I heard a rather low but loud boom followed by my desk shaking a little. I’m about 10 miles away as well.” [geequeue, commenting on Sugar Land Sugar Box Implosions Back on for This Sunday]

12/20/10 11:49am

It took several tries and a bit of a scare to take down the second building from the former Imperial Sugar factory and refinery off Highway 90A in Sugar Land Sunday. As shown in more than a dozen YouTube videos, the metal bin building collapsed after the first blasts of dynamite shortly after 7 am, as planned. But the metal furnace house, directly adjacent to the brick char house, didn’t budge; getting it out of there turned out to be a little trickier. A second series of blasts (shown in the video above), set around 7:45, produced . . . well, not much. Then, maybe 40 minutes later, after most of the crowds had left and workers had gone inside the building to try to figure out what was wrong, and when the remaining onlookers least expected it, there was this frightening scene:


12/16/10 2:06pm

The controlled demolitions of 2 metal buildings once part of the Imperial Sugar Refinery off Highway 90A in Sugar Land, originally scheduled for December 12th, have been rescheduled for this weekend. If all goes according to plan, after the dynamite blasts on Sunday morning the furnace house and bin building will fall away from the brick char house, which Johnson Development Corp. plans to save and use as a centerpiece for the new 700-acre historic-themed development it plans to build on the site, celebrating the rich but recently decimated history of the local sugar-refining business. The company plans to call the development “Imperial.” With or without the implosion, the demolition of Sugar Land’s iconic buildings has already been nominated this year for a Swamplot Award for Houston Real Estate, in the Best Teardown category.

The viewing area will be east of Main St. and north of Hwy. 90A — which will be closed down. There will be parking available at Lakeview Elementary, 314 Lakeview Dr., and Sugar Land Middle School, 321 Seventh St. Demo time is scheduled for 7 am.

Photo: Flickr user mscottk

12/08/10 1:10pm

Late Update, 12/16: The implosions are back on, scheduled for December 19th.

Update, 12/8 3:30 pm: FortBendNow is reporting that this weekend’s implosion has been canceled and will be rescheduled later.

Fort Bend County fans of large building implosions won’t have to drive all the way into Downtown Houston to watch the next big boom. It’s gonna be taking place right in the heart of Sugar Land, this weekend! Johnson Development Corp. will be knocking down an old furnace house and a bin building — 2 metal structures from the former Imperial Sugar Refinery — this Sunday morning at 7. The ongoing demolition project is necessary so the company — part of a public-private partnership with the Texas General Land Office and the City of Sugar Land, run by private equity firm Cherokee — can create a giant historic-themed development on the surrounding industrial acreage, celebrating the area’s rich history of refinement. The Imperial Sugar Company, no stranger to refinery explosions itself, shut down the plant in 2003.


12/14/09 1:45pm

You know you want to see it: Yesterday’s “controlled demolition” of the hobbled 31-story Ocean Tower condo at the northern end of South Padre Island. Controlled Demolition’s dynamite work took down the tallest reinforced-concrete structure ever to be imploded.

A few more videos below. South Padre sure knows how to party!


12/11/09 9:04am

Here’s a little drive-by tour with expert commentary on the lost and leaning Ocean Tower on South Padre Island, slated for implosion this Sunday at 9 a.m. The condo tower has supposed to have 31 levels, but accumulated many more stories: Construction was halted last year after one side of the building sunk more than 14 inches into the sand.

Three months after topping out the tower last spring, developer Antun Domit sent a letter to buyers noting that a problem of “differential settlement” had occurred:

Unfortunately, there is a layer or stratum of which the engineers tell us is “expandable clay”, meaning that it is a clay stratum that compresses [when] weight is placed upon it. Although our foundation is engineered to a depth above that stratum, the weight pressing on the stratum has caused sinking of the building on it.

But there’s a fix for that!


10/07/09 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SAVOY HOTEL IMPLOSION YOU MISSED “I was across the street watching the tear down on and off for the 3rd day. They had a little trouble with the elevator shaft and the chimneys. Apparently the building was built pretty solid…2 foot thick brick walls. Yesterday they etched part of the bricks in the back and about half the building came down all at once by itself, rattling the ground and putting up a huge dust cloud. Part of the fire escape fell on the parking garage next door though.” [K. Brink, commenting on Emergency Demo: The Savoy Hotel’s Final Weekend Stay Downtown]

03/13/09 11:45am

This weekend’s Galleria-area bank implosion won’t be televised nationally, but you should be able to watch it happen live if you wake up early enough on Sunday. Preparations for the dynamite-fueled takedown of the Compass Bank building at 2200 Post Oak are just about complete.

A notice sent out last month to area businesses by Cherry Demolition says the implosion is scheduled for approximately 7:45 am on March 15th — which happens to be the 2,053rd anniversary, give or take a calendar adjustment, of the Julius Caesar demo. A few details:

Adjacent streets will be closed at approximately 6:00 am and re-open at 9:15 am. Streets to be closed are Guilford and Post Oak Boulevard between Westheimer and Ambassador Way.

So where’s the best vantage point for viewing this cathartic form of timely public theater gonna be?


11/15/07 12:42pm

Sliding Door Closeup from Crowne Plaza Hotel Demolition, Texas Medical Center, Houston

So professional and amateur detectives have huddled over the Crowne Plaza demolition videos and what have they come up with? Here are the rumors . . . er, clues!

First, mysterious Flickr member txrice123 writes:

the police are investigating a report that there may have been someone inside the structure on the fifth floor in the middle. a video taken from the face of your side (from St. Luke’s) apparently shows this person run to the edge, then run back. if you have any shots from before, you may like to look closely and send them to hpd.

The photo txrice123 is commenting on was taken from the west side of the building, and St. Luke’s is to the north, so the comment is a little confusing, no? And, uh . . . which fifth floor? The hotel had a podium.

Next, KPRC-TV keeps talking about a “shadow,” but isn’t shedding any light on the subject:

The home video showed a shadow inside the building moments before it was destroyed on Sunday.

Who knows what lurked in there?

And of course there’s the mysterious sliding door, shown enlarged above from the video in Swamplot’s earlier post. ABC13 hypes this part of the video, but neglects to point out that several gust-inducing dynamite blasts have taken place and the building has already started to rumble by the time the door starts “sliding.” Hey, isn’t a fire door supposed to close in a case like this?

After the jump, the door slides shut!


11/15/07 12:05am

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=3dkfv0e2GCk 400 330]

Watch this video very closely. Do you see someone entering the building before the demolition begins? Maybe on the left side of the screen?

No? Well, keep looking. How about enlarging the video — or breaking it down frame by frame — so you can examine it more carefully?

Apparently someone who shot a video of the same event from the same angle saw something in it so disturbing that he brought the footage to the attention of the Houston Police Department. And officers found the evidence credible enough that they spent the greater part of Wednesday searching through rubble to see if maybe someone got into the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Texas Medical Center shortly before it was imploded Sunday morning.

KHOU-TV reports that police are focusing their search on the Fannin side of the building, which would be the street on the left. The station also says that the video used as evidence was in fact taken from the St. Luke’s Medical Towerthe same vantage point as the YouTube video above.

So is the video above the same one the police are studying?


11/14/07 4:24pm

Here’s an awful thought: Was someone inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel when it was imploded Sunday morning? Channel 11 News is reporting that police received a tip earlier today “about a possible death on the site during the implosion.”

According to the tip, there may be video showing the person inside the building when it went down. It was unclear who had the video.

Police have yet to determine if the tip is legitimate.