A couple weeks ago, we shared a list of the 100 tallest buildings to ever be demolished. One of the most interesting things that I learned while researching for that article was that although Detroit’s Greater Department Hudson Store was not the tallest building on the list (it was #21), it was the tallest on the list to actually be imploded.
Demolition by implosion is no doubt the quickest way to bring down a large structure, but it’s also extremely dangerous, especially in a downtown setting. Not only do you have to precisely control where the building falls, there are many environmental hazards and cleanup that will be present.
Completed in 1911, the Hudson Department Store stood 410 feet and contained 29 floors. The retail store in the building was in operation until 1983, but the building was still occupied by office staff until 1986. The building was eventually sold in 1989 and then finally demolished 9 years later in 1998.
Controlled Demolition, Inc, the company responsible for the conducting the demolition, stated that the demolition was made more difficult because they didn’t have any structural drawings to work from. “The interdependency of the 12 different construction stages, with differing construction and variable column flange directions and bay widths created what CDI calls differential natural failure modes in each section of the structure which CDI’s demolition program had to cope with,” the company explained on their website.
After 3 months of investigating the structural system and 4 months of implosion design preparations, CDI’s crew was then ready to begin the implosion. It then took a 12 man crew twenty four days to place over 4,000 charges in over 1,000 different locations to make it work. Prior to the work being started, the building was underwent asbestos abatement.
Around 20,000 people showed up to watch the demolition in person and none were prepared for the absolutely massive cloud of smoke that they were eventually swallowed by. There was some damage, although minimal according to CDI, which included broken windows on adjacent buildings and some minor structural and cosmetic damage to the adjacent People Mover Tramway.
You can watch the video of the implosion below:
This video below has a view from a little farther away that shows the huge dust cloud:
I also found this video from a news channel’s live coverage of the implosion that many could find interesting: