Demolition firm dismantles hospital tower floor by floor

Demolition firm Bierlein Companies was recently faced with the challenge of demolishing nine floors of a hospital tower, keeping the first floor and basement intact for renovation.

Because the Bronson Methodist Hospital of Kalamazoo, Mich., wanted to continue to use the lab on the first floor and the utilities in the basement, Bierlein had to carefully dismantle the building piece by piece over a four-month period. Sixteen crews were specially trained for the project, which required taking down the interior and exterior walls from inside the building, removing the debris and then trucking it offsite.

After each of the nine top floors were stripped, workers started on the 10th floor, where they dismantled the floors and support columns from the top down. Final sections of the floor were removed from the floor below.

“The whole project was like the game ‘Operation’,” said Pat Wurtzel, Bierlein vice president of operations. “We reached in and removed the North Tower, carefully avoiding everything around it.”

Approximately $40 million worth of construction equipment was used on the job, including four excavators, four skid-steer loaders, two concrete-breaking excavators, three 5,000-pound fork trucks, two semi-trucks, a 110-ton crane and a 275-ton crane. Specialized demolition attachments such as grapples, conventional buckets, concrete processors and hydraulic hammers were also used to take down the structure.

Because of the careful dismantling process, the majority of the debris from the site was recycled, including 2,500 tons of structural steel and 14,000 tons of concrete. In all, less than 20 percent of the building’s remains were taken to a landfill.