DEMOLITION: Construction In Reverse
North American Dismantling perfects the art of Demolition
Finesse is a word not usually associated with demolition. No less
demanding than constructing a building, selective demolition removes
a section of a structure with a dexterity comparable to pulling
a tablecloth out from under a dinner setting. Whether performing
selective demolition, complete demolition or executing an implosion,
North American Dismantling Corporation is a skilled practitioner
of construction in reverse - the craft of systematically demolishing,
segregating, and recycling a building's steel bones, its brick skin,
and conduit. Lead by its general superintendent, Greg Goscenski,
the Lapeer-based firm plies their trade throughout Michigan and
across the country with a fleet of specialty demolition equipment:
hydraulic shears methodically snip away at massive steel beams,
and material processors with concrete-crushing jaw methodically
reduce concrete to broken rubble. In the hands of NADC's skilled
operators, a grapple's heavy metal fingers gingerly segregate debris
into piles of steel, concrete, aluminum and copper.
NADC engaged in search and recovery operations
in the smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center for over
three weeks putting to use the CAT 375 BL excavator and their
CAT 345 UHD.
As the last trade to touch a building slated for demise, NADC is
deeply entrenched in the drive to remediate and recycle materials.
The company's work demolishing five concourses, totaling 370,000
square feet, at Detroit Metro's Northwest Airlines Terminal required
removal and disposal of five underground storage tanks, 11000 cubic
yards of petrochemical-contaminated soil and an on-site survey identifying
and removing all hazardous and regulated materials. The project
was in design in September 2001 at the time of the terrorist attacks
on the World Trade Center. All NADC personnel had to pass a 10-year
FBI background check to work on the project. In addition, everyone
in the company - from laborers to the owner - had to undergo special
training to gain access and work in the Air Operating Area (AOA).
NADC's work took place only 20 feet from the runway and was separated
from active air traffic only by a line of concrete jersey barriers
installed by NADC. "You could feel their jet blast, that is
how close they were," said Thomas A. Bailey, NADC's project
Working as prime contractor under a design /demolish/build contract,
NADC demolished select concourses and refurbished the remaining
buildings with new EIFS end walls. NADC also planned and designed
all the utility disconnects and rerouting. "We had to redesign
the heating systems, steam, water, gas, and electrical, plus we
had to keep everything else in that area functional, including their
security system," said Bailey.
NADC also designed the engineered backfill for the basements of
the demolished structures. NADC's ultra high reach and material
processor, crunching away at the concrete concourse like a mechanical
Tyrannosaurus Rex, reduced the sturdy edifice to broken concrete
chunks. The company's portable crusher downsized the chunks into
21 AA engineered backfill that now serves as the base beneath 115,000
square feet of newly paved surface, designed and installed by NADC
to support an aircraft's impact and load.
In essence, NADC converted five concrete buildings into the very
backfill supporting the site where the buildings once stood. With
the material reused on site, hauling and disposal costs for 15,000
cubic yards of demolition hard fill were eliminated and valuable
landfill space was preserved.
The firm's heavy-duty grapples also serve a "green" purpose,
both environmentally and economically. NADC's skilled operators
moved the metal grapple over the commingled debris pile, skillfully
separating the varied materials. Scrap steel is segregated further
into piles of plate steel, miscellaneous iron, and structural steel.
“People think we just knock it down and throw it away,"
said Bailey. "We don't do that. As material handlers, we are
doing in reverse what construction crews did in the beginning. They
put the steel up first, and then the concrete block, followed by
the conduit, the aluminum and the copper. It comes down in a reverse
sequence with us placing it in different piles.” such careful
segregation is based on the value of different materials at the
scrap yard. "In some cases, we obtain ownership the metals
and materials, and in other cases, the project owner obtains control,"
said Bailey. "Either way, some value comes out of the reclaimed
material and landfill space is saved. ... Probably about 95 percent
of a building can be recycled. Basically, the beam you take out
today may be the car you are driving tomorrow."
NADC also employed the portable crusher on the Compuware jobsite.
NADC removed 400,000 cubic yards of earthwork soils and site clearing,
including demolition, excavation and removal of 16,000 cubic yards
of hidden caissons, foundation walls, footings, and grade beams
from the old Crowley's department store on the downtown Detroit
"Nobody knew exactly where the caissons were.," said
Ivan S. Basin, Jar., NADC's finance director. "As we excavated
the ground, we demolished the caissons with our equipment's hydraulic
crushing jaws." The broken concrete was loaded into NADC's
portable on-site crusher, transformed into 24,000 tons of 21 AA
aggregate, and used as backfill material for a series of temporary
site access roads, access ramps, and parking areas.
NADC TO THE RESCUE
From crushers to cranes, NADC's equipment arsenal was called into
play after a Class 4 tornado struck GM's Oklahoma City Assembly
Plant on May 8, 2003, inflicting extensive damage to the paint shop,
body shop, and powerhouse and completely destroying two cooling
towers. A phone call the following night from GM's construction
managers, the Washington Group International, to the home of a NADC
employee resulted in the immediate mobilization of manpower and
machines to the devastated plant. Key personnel took the next available
Flight to Oklahoma City, and within three days, NADC mobilized 36
major pieces of equipment, including hydraulic excavators, loaders,
and 250-ton capacity hydraulic cranes, as well as a 150-person crew
to begin demolition, NADC obtained special permission from governors
of six different states to transport its Caterpillar 345 Ultra Flight
Reach from its home in Lapeer to Oklahoma on a Sunday.
"The tornado hit on late Thursday afternoon, we heard about
it on Friday night, and our team was out there on Saturday examining
the job," recalled Bailey. "We started mobilizing at 7
p.m. on Saturday -evening. We began initial work on Sunday and had
cranes assembled on site by Monday.
"... Demolition and reconstruction was initially expected
to take several months, but we did this whole job in seven weeks,"
Bailey added. With 40 years in construction and 25 years in demolition,
Bailey is an astute and experienced project manager/estimator with
a degree in construction engineering from Lawrence Technological
NADC struck as swiftly as the tornado, adeptly executing its mission
of clearing debris and demolishing almost the entire interior of
the 2-million-square-foot plant. The Oklahoma Tornado Recovery Team
replaced 300 tons of structural steel, 18,000 feet of heavy electrical
cable, 500,000 square feet of siding, 500,000 square feet of roofing,
and 8,000 tons of water-cooling capacity, according to NADC's project
description. On June 23, 2003, the plant reopened and the wheels
of production began to spin once again - less than two months after
suffering a direct hit by Mother Nature.
Swift to respond, NADC also rose to the occasion in the aftermath
of the World Trade Center attacks. Soon after the towers' collapse,
NADC contacted the New York Fire Department and the mayor's office,
offering the use of their specialty demolition equipment. The firm's
90-ton CAT 375 hydraulic excavator and the 345 UHD (ultra high demolition),
along with an assortment of heavy-duty grapples and hydraulic shears,
were currently in use on a GM jobsite in Tonawanda, New York, a
suburb of Buffalo 500 miles to the north of the World Trade Center.
General Motors granted permission for the exit of the equipment,
despite the fact that its removal would delay GM's own project by
about a month. "They gave us a police escort," recalled
Bain. "We were taken into the city right over the bridges.
We did not disassemble the machines at all, because weight restrictions
were waived at that time.
" NADC engaged in search and recovery operations in the smoldering
rubble of the World Trade Center for a little over three weeks,
putting to use its CAT 375 BL excavator, armed with a HDR 170 grapple,
and its CAT 345 UHD, a piece of equipment able to reach heights
of up to 85 feet. 'Together, the two pieces of equipment removed
heavy steel beams and other debris, paying the way for manual recovery
operations. (NADC's ultra high reach equipment ranges in size from
a CAT 345 UHD up to a CAT 365 UHD that can attain heights of almost
KEEPING THE WORLD ON WHEELS
Beyond disaster relief, the firm's bread and butter industrial
projects keep the Motor City on course, reshuffling and remodeling
the automotive industry's plant infrastructure Adept project management,
a fleet of specialty demolition equipment, and skilled union personnel
keep NADC's projects on track, on budget, and on schedule, "We
have union employees, union operators, union laborers, and union
truck drivers, so we have the elite of the demolition industry working
for us," said Bain.
Keeping the world on wheels in 2004, NADC performed three, concurrent
demolition projects in General Motors' facilities spread across
eastern Michigan. As a subcontractor to Ideal Contracting, NADC
removed 45,000 square feet Of steel flooring from a plant section
in GM's Flint Metal Fabrication Plant. Heavy-duty steel flooring
supported arid partially enveloped massive stamping presses resting
at basement level and. rising Lip through the first floor.
A key challenge was finding an entry and pathway through the plant
that would accommodate NADC'S massive equipment, which included
a 110,000-lb. hydraulic excavator and a large articulating truck.
"We needed the size and mass of the CAT 350 to handle the sire
of the steel pieces that we removed," said Bailey. "The
350 allowed us to remove the steel safely, expeditiously, and in
a timely manner. ... Without getting that piece of equipment into
the area, the job would have lasted much longer.
"As the second project in this GM trilogy, NADC undertook
selective demolition of an 80-foot-tall space called the Sand Shed,
a 14,000-square-foot area in GM's Saginaw Metal Casting Operation
",here workers Once Poured molten metal into sand molds to
cast engine blocks. Demolishing this 1, 120,000-cubic-foot, giant
Sandbox required removal of extensive 5-foot-thick concrete sand
bins that covered approximately 5,000 square feet and rose 20 feet
Complicating demolition, the sand shed was tightly sandwiched between
two remaining, fully functional buildings, each serviced by a conveyor
system spanning the shed and linking the two structures. Preserving
the function of the conveyor was paramount to the casting operation.
NADC devised and installed a temporary conveyor system that did
not interfere with demolition arid maintained delivery of sand to
the plant throughout the project. "We like challenging projects
that call on us to devise different solutions," said Bailey.
Before beginning actual demolition, NADC also subcontracted and
managed the installation, shoring and bracing of several areas Of
Structural steel; salvaged major equipment for plant reuse, including
60-ton and 300-ton steel sand silos; and rerouted, re-supported
and installed new electrical and mechanical systems, according to
information supplied by NADC.
REWIRING FOR THE FUTURE
As the last project in the GM trilogy, NADC turned their skills
toward utility disassembly arid selective demolition at the GM Warren
Power train Plant on Nine Mile and Mound roads. Built in the 1920s,
the plant's lengthy industrial resume includes housing the Hudson
Motor Car Co., manufacturing artillery shells for the U.S. Navy,
and serving as a production hub for Ford Motor, followed by GM.
Over the years, the plant grew into a manufacturing complex with
14 separate buildings that Were eventually fused into one massive
facility in the 1960s. Currently, GM plans to convert a 4450,000
square foot section of the approximately 2,000,000 square foot plane
into an area dedicated to the assembly of k22F six-speed transmissions.
NADC’s mission was removal of all the old and abandoned utilities
from almost 90 years of manufacturing. The exposed utilities were
all tucked in the narrow confines of the plant’s truss system.
"We had to go up with man lifts and torches into the trusses
and cut all the old utilities,” said Bailey
As NADC subcontractors, Centerline Electric, Inc. and John E.
Green Co. (mechanical and fire sprinkler contractor), first identified
and tagged their respective utilities, both the utilities slated
for removal and those required to maintain plant operations. NADC
had to keep key systems operational, including the roof conductors
that direct rain off the roof, fire protection and fire alarm systems,
security cameras, and broadband systems for the plant's computer
NADC and its team of contractors spent roughly seven weeks identifying
and tracing the pathways of the various systems, beginning on Aug.
2, 2004 and ending in September. "Because of time constraints,
we started the mechanical, electrical and sprinkler trades a week
ahead of us," said Bailey. "They worked two to three days
ahead of us, and we followed right behind performing our removal!
North Roofing served as the subcontractor handling the resealing
of roof openings. Five rooftop air handlers supplied air to the
plant via several hundred feet of 6- to 8-foot ductwork snaking
across the roof and down into this expansive plant section. "We
removed all the ductwork from the roof, resealing any roof openings,"
said Bailey. "The air handlers will remain, but with a different
ductwork pattern and system.
" NADC swiftly completed about 80 percent of the job by the
end of September "We will finish up another section of the
job in December," said Bailey. Altogether, utility disassembly
for most of the 450,000 square-foot expanse consumed only two months.
"We execute some of these projects even quicker than that,
because time is of the essence to the plant," said Bailey.
"They are not making any money when they are not building cars."
Safety is as crucial to NADC as time. In utility disassembly projects,
NADC insists on the cutting of a safe zone, a test cut of a one-foot
section of utility that ensures workers it is safe to completely
cut and remove the entire line, said Bailey. "We are adamant
about safety," said Bailey. "All NADC personnel must undergo
mandatory drug testing, follow the Safe2Work program with its series
of safety training video modules, and have blood lead levels tested
at intervals. Plus, the core of our work force includes 40-hour
HAZMAT training and asbestos awareness training, as well."
As part of the Warren project, NADC also removed a 2-inch concrete
topping from a section (A the plant's structural floor, plus wood
block flooring from another portion. The wood block flooring had
to be treated as a regulated waste, because of the oils that had
soaked into the material over the years. As on All projects, NADC
followed EPA and DEQ regulations, coordinating the effort with GM's
stringent regulatory and hazardous waste program. "Of course,
materials, such as oils and any asbestos blanketing pipes and housing
must be abated before the systems are removed," said Bailey.
At the Warren plant, Rand Environmental handled asbestos abatement,
AU Technologies performed environmental cleaning, and Barton Malow
executed the carpentry contract requiring the building of temporary
plywood walls to segregate the section under demolition from the
THE COMMERCIAL MARKETPLACE
NADC specializes in industrial projects, but maintains a robust
commercial and institutional division that includes a sizeable portfolio
of church, school, healthcare and retail projects. In 2004, NADC
performed work for nine schools alone, including two sizeable schools
in Flints Carmen Ainsworth School District, said Bain. Healthcare
projects include work at Beaumont and Crittenton hospitals and the
complete demolition of St. Joseph Mercy in Flint.
Past commercial projects include the 1990 implosion of the 10-story,
230,000square-foot Mackenzie fall on the campus of Wayne State University,
and the 1997 implosion of a 14-story, 160,000-squarefoot building
in downtown Detroit originally built for Howard Johnson Motor Lodge
Company. A significant future project is selective demolition of
MSU's Spartan Stadium in Lansing." We’re demolishing
a portion of the stadium associated with the press box," said
Bailey. They are going to bring the stadium out a few feet."
Solely owned by Rick Marcicki, NADC performs jobs in Michigan and
across the nation, roughly averaging 25 percent out of state and
75 percent in Michigan. NADC has performed jobs in Texas, Ohio,
New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, and will soon embark
on a project in North Carolina.
From industrial plants to your local church, the challenges of
a well-planned demolition match the demands of new construction.
In business since 1984, North American Dismantling Corp. has definitely
mastered the art of methodically dismantling and reusing a building.
The firm's skilled reshaping of industrial facilities, power plants,
and airports prunes and sharpens the country's infrastructure, maintaining
our global competitiveness and paving the way for the future.
Reprinted with permission.
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