Capital Growth

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Demolition Services' latest project is just one of many jobs in the Washington, D.C., area that have made room for new development.

July 22, 2013
Kristin Smith

Demolition Services has tackled several types and sizes of demolition projects in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and beyond. As company president Ronald “Boots” Feather puts it, “We prefer to do anything and everything.” But it is the Manassas, Va.-based company’s reputation with government projects that has given it a lot of business in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas, including its latest project: the Navy Annex also known as Federal Office Building 2 (FOB 2) in Arlington, Va.

FOB 2 may have been ordinary in its outward appearance, but its size, location and history were anything but. The 1 million-square-foot building sat among the Pentagon, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, the Air Force Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. The building was constructed in 1941 and was reportedly meant to serve as a “temporary” structure. Once a military warehouse, the building was housing as many as 6,000 federal employees 71 years later when it finally closed in 2012 in preparation for demolition.

Demolition Services has undertaken projects of that size before, but Feather says, “As one solid building sitting on one plot, this would be one of the largest we’ve done.”

Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) put the project out for bid, which called for clearing the property to a 12-foot depth from existing grade and removing all man-made structures. Once cleared, the land is intended to be used for expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. The contract was awarded jointly to Demolition Services and to Corinthian Contractors, an Arlington, Va.-based general contractor.

Tight Circumstances
The contractors were given a 330-day timeframe in which to complete the project. The asbestos abatement began in October 2012.

“The abatement crews went in and did a Phase I abatement, which was taking all the things out that would put us at risk,” says Feather. Once Phase I was complete, demolition crews could begin the interior gutting. Because of the tight timeframe, abatement crews and demolition crews had to work at the site at the same time.

“They [abatement crews] had to abate a full wing and be into the next wing or be a couple wings ahead of us free and clear for us to start the demo,” Feather explains. “We weren’t able to go in and perform any demo until the abatement crews were out of the way or until it was a safe working environment for everybody. Hand-in-hand we worked together to do our interior guts to make sure our schedule was staying on track.”

Feather adds that since the facility was so large, “Dual scheduling was very key to making sure where everyone was and what they were doing.” At any given time, he says, there were as many as 100 employees on the job site, but only three or four might be visible.

Demolition Services uses excavators and crushing and screening equipment to recycle debris from the demolition of Federal Office Building 2 in Arlington, Va.

Recycling Teamwork
With the abatement crews removing the contaminants, Feather says it made sorting out recyclables on site easier. “It wasn’t really a stationary picking station, but we were doing a lot of hand sorting,” recalls Feather. Crews picked out wires, electrical boxes, ferrous and nonferrous metals and carpet. “As a whole we were looking at it as recycling as much as possible,” Feather adds.

While not considered a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project, WSH still had some recycling requirements, including recycling the carpets. Feather says that while only about 30 percent of the projects his company works on are LEED-certified, “We treat all of them as a green project.”

Demolition Services has recycling equipment it uses on job sites, including mobile crushers and screening plants. “If we don’t have the capability of doing on-site crushing or hauling back to our recycling yard, we haul it to other yards,” Feather says of the concrete. He adds that the company recycles everything it possibly can to be reused either on that specific project or on other projects that need fill.

Ferrous and nonferrous metals recovered from the demolition go to area scrap recyclers. As far as the rest of the material, Feather says, “It didn’t just go to our construction landfills, it went to a sorting station.” And it didn’t just go to one C&D sorting facility. Because of the overwhelming amount of material coming off the site, material went to multiple facilities. Of those facilities, Feather says, “They did their due diligence to try to recycle that much more of it. Nine times out of 10, at the end of a project, when we look at everything as a whole volume, we are recycling 75 to 90 percent of all projects.”

At FOB 2, 90 to 95 percent of the carpet was able to be recovered and recycled, according to Feather. He estimates 70,000 cubic yards of concrete and 2,500 tons of ferrous and nonferrous metal also were recycled. He notes that for a building that was only supposed to be temporary, it was built to last, with concrete from floor to ceiling and inch-and-a-half square rebar.

Tearing through that concrete and rebar were two 80-foot high reach excavators from Komatsu and Caterpillar. Powerscreen jaw and impact crushers broke up the concrete before being screened and run across a magnet. It’s what Feather calls “normal protocol.” Multiple pieces of Doosan and Komatsu equipment were used in the demolition as well, he adds.

A Good Neighbor
It has taken many people and truckloads of material to bring down and recycle FOB 2. Demolition is expected to be complete in mid-August, with site grading to follow. The grading is expected to take approximately seven weeks to complete.

Changes are already noticeable to the surrounding area. Feather says of a hotel next door to the site, “They are seeing things they’ve probably never been able to see.” Those living and working in the area, may have noticed the increased activity at the site during the last year, but crews have tried to keep the noise and traffic to a minimum.

Feather says traffic has been maintained and there have been no shutdowns of any roadways. During the height of demolition between 60 to 90 truckloads of material were going in and out of the site. Demolition Services worked to avoid moving trucks through a nearby residential neighborhood. “The amount of truck traffic trips coming in and out would have destroyed that neighborhood,” says Feather. “We were able to put together a truck route to completely alleviate them going through there.”

Demolition crews have been working six days per week, 12 hours per day in order to stay on schedule and to adhere to neighborhood ordinances. Initially, Feather recalls a lot of concerns from residents about noise and traffic, but because of the measures Demolition Services has taken to mitigate those nuisances, he only received positive feedback from those living, working and visiting the area, which hosts a lot of tourists.

“To date, I believe we’ve gotten nothing but praise from them and everybody has been cooperative,” says Feather. He adds that the company’s employees approach everything they do as though they were doing it for themselves. “Whatever the end result, it is something we would want to have,” he says. “We treat people the way we would want to be treated and we treat projects the same way.” C&DR

The author is managing editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be contacted at

**Photos: Washington Headquarters Services