Brandenburg Oversees Demolition of Indy Airport Tower

Staff | September 28, 2010

Indianapolis— Demolition crews have leveled an unused 140-foot control tower at Indianapolis International Airport. The old tower was leveled by a planned explosion at 1:14 a.m. on Nov. 13. The tower was de-commissioned in April in favor of the new control tower located approximately one mile farther west adjacent to the construction site of the new Midfield Terminal.

Brandenburg Industrial Service Co., Chicago, and subcontractor Chicago Explosives Services Inc. planned and executed the explosion. In the hours before the blast, Chicago Explosives installed less than 10 pounds of explosives at key structural points. The blast cut a notch in the concrete tower topped by a steel and glass observation deck, and the structure toppled north into open ground north and away from the support building south of the tower.

"Removing the tower was a successful, safe event, thanks to careful planning by dozens of people and several organizations," said John Kish, director of the New Indianapolis Airport project. "This is an important step forward."

Eighty percent of the material in the old tower will be recycled. "We make it easy to recycle," said John O'Keefe, vice president of Brandenburg. "Steel is a particularly valuable commodity."

The old control tower, which opened in 1972, was one of 50 FAA control towers designed in that era by I.M. Pei, the internationally renowned creator of landmark buildings such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the glass pyramid in a courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris. At 140 feet, the old tower was less than half of the height of the new control tower (completed in 2004), which stands 340 feet. Also, its floor space was less than half that of the new tower.

Removing the old tower is a small part of the five-year project that is creating the New Indianapolis Airport. The new Midfield Terminal will open in late 2008 next to the new control tower. Turner/Trotter, a joint venture of Turner Aviation and Trotter Construction, is the general contractor.