Back in September 1963, just months before the assassination of President Kennedy and the rise of Beatlemania would consume the nation, college students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were settling into the newly opened Cather and Pound Halls for the first time.
More than 54 years later, the university’s oldest high-rise residence hall complex was imploded on Dec. 22, 2017, in favor of the campus’ newer suite-style housing that has been built in recent years.
While the university had been planning the demolition of the 13-story structures for several years, Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Ark Wrecking wasn’t named as the project’s demolition contractor until May 2017. Ark Wrecking, which has been in the demolition business since 1950, subcontracted the implosion preparations and execution to Phoenix, Maryland-based Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI).
The decision to implode the building was made by the university, which wanted to limit the risk associated with the demolition.
“The university hired a demo consultant to come and look at their buildings to come up with a plan for the best possible scenario to get those two buildings down safely with little to no risk to the general public,” Harrison Williams, project manager at Ark Wrecking, says. “They talked about breaking it down mechanically, both balling it down or utilizing UHD (ultra-high demolition) tools, but the problem with both of those options is the time of exposure during the demolition would require multiple weeks. They were more interested in the building being on the ground immediately.”