Dallas Demolition

By Liz Moucka | September 28, 2010

Implosions for all their excitement are also signs of growth. Last November 9 at 8 a.m., amidst a mounting recession, Dallas Demolition and their blasting contractor CDI brought down the 10-story, 150,000-square-foot atrium style hotel — formerly a Holiday Inn, also at one time called the Meadow Inn — along North Central Expressway at Meadow Lane in Dallas.

This location fits into plans of Valencia Capital Management to build an 83-acre mixed-use development between Central Expressway and the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) line to the east.


In less than 10 seconds, Dallas Demolition and CDI reduced the 10-story hotel along North Central Expressway in Dallas to rubble.

During the weeks leading up to the implosion, Dallas Demolition removed all recyclable metals from the building. In addition to metals, sources were located to accept all the furniture and carpet from public areas, according to Tony Lohden, president of Dallas Demolition. Priority 1 was subcontracted to remove all hazardous materials, primarily asbestos, from the structure prior to the installation of dynamite. Bagged and identified, such material was taken to authorized disposal sites.

To keep the concrete fly from the exploding columns from going beyond the footprint of the building during the blast, the exteriors of the first, fourth and seventh floors were wrapped with 12-ounce geotextile fabric plus steel fabric.

CDI, the explosives contractor working for Dallas Demolition, spent the days before the blast testing the effect of charges on a few non-critical concrete columns to determine the minimal amount of dynamite that would be needed for the job. These test blasts help the contractor determine the PSI of the concrete and indicate what the concrete will do in relation to the reinforcing steel.

CDI's crew planted 200 pounds of dynamite in columns throughout the first, fourth and seventh floors, linking all the charges together with more than 3,000 feet of primacord to bring down the estimated 6,000 tons of concrete.

"We're going to drop the building to the south to keep the majority of the dust away from the adjoining building [to the north]," explained Tony Lohden. "We'll start with the columns in the center of the building and bring the outside edges in." The roof over the atrium had been removed prior to the implosion, and much of the debris would fall into that center area.

The Implosion

The air carries excited anticipation of a spectacular show with the usual throngs of spectators beginning to arrive before sunrise, seeking vantage points from nearby buildings and lining the opposite side of the freeway. There are individuals clutching their cameras and hot coffees; families with children, outfitted with blankets and thermoses of hot chocolate; and couples with lawn chairs, all willing to endure the morning chill for the best show in town on a Sunday morning. City police, also having taken their posts in the pre-dawn hours, begin directing traffic.

Anticipating the spectators is a significant part of the implosion process. Dallas Demolition began meeting weeks in advance with the city to arrange traffic control; with nearby rail services that would have to cease operation for a few minutes in that area; with gas and electric providers who had infrastructure in the area; and with nearby building owners who might need to protect windows and air handling systems, and to help them decide if they wished to keep sightseers off their property.

In a staging area near the demolition property, fire trucks and ambulances stand ready should the worst happen. A fleet of city street sweepers queue, ready to clean the adjacent streets as soon as the dust cloud begins to disperse.

Suddenly, over the din, the two-minute warning horn blows. Cameras are brought to the ready. The hum of vehicles on Central Expressway ceases as the highway patrol stops traffic prior to the blast. The one-minute warning horn sounds much louder in the now quiet dawn.

The detonation crew had set up the charge in a nearby parking garage about 250 feet away on the north side of the Holiday Inn. The third generation of Lohdens were in on the action. The two grandsons of company founder Roy Lohden have been working in the family business since getting out of school — Cole Lohden for a little over a year and Bond Lohden about a year longer. Cole held down the button that charges the battery to allow the detonator to fire. For safety, two buttons are used to initiate the implosion. Until the contractors are ready to begin the charges, the detonator has no power. Although early plans called for Bond to push the detonator, the Dallas City Council had singled out an honoree to push the detonation button.

Because the charge travels at 5 miles per second, once the detonator is pushed, it takes less than five seconds for all the charges to fire like a string of fireworks, but accompanied by a low-pitched rumble that hits the chest like the bass drum of a marching band. In another 3 or 4 seconds, gravity completes the job as the dense dust cloud rises, then begins to slowly drift on the light breeze of dawn.

The building came down just as planned. Roy Lohden said, "It was helpful to have a project with so much space around it."

The city sweepers began rolling as soon as the drivers enjoyed the awe of the building fall and saw the dust cloud move past the perimeter streets. They had the streets clean enough to get traffic moving again by the time people were able to walk back to their cars to join the outbound procession. Cleanup of the remaining debris took about four to six weeks with excavators, according to Tony Lohden. That includes traditional demolition methods for the one-story restaurant structure adjoining the hotel on its south side.

Within minutes, the Dallas Demolition crew cranked up their excavators to begin sorting and loading steel and concrete into trucks. By the time the site was cleaned in less than four weeks, 100 percent of the concrete, steel and asphalt had been sent to recycling.

New Construction

Valencia Capital Management hopes to develop a mixed-use community of high-rise condominiums, mid-rise apartments, luxury town homes, senior living, hospitality, medical office buildings, and neighborhood retail stores on this 83-acre site. Infrastructure utility upgrades have already begun in the area.