A six-story parking garage located on the campus of UT Austin was imploded Jan. 6 to make way for new student housing. Waco, Texas-based ARC Abatement worked alongside West Bountiful, Utah-based Grant Mackay on the demolition project. Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI), Phoenix, Maryland, oversaw and the implosion.
According to ARC Abatement Project Manager Joe Daniel, ARC Abatement won the job in fall 2018 and originally made plans to demo the structure using conventional methods. However, they quickly changed course once work started.
“We originally planned on doing the project conventionally with a high-reach excavator,” Daniel says. “There were no as-builts, and the columns and beams were extremely large on this project, so we assumed these were poured in place. The owner did some X-rays of the columns, but the people who did the X-rays missed the cabling, and when we started to tear into the structure, we immediately popped out some cables, popped out some tendons, and realized we had a post-tension structure on our hands.”
Once the company decided to change course, the lion’s share of ARC’s work involved safely preparing the structure for implosion.
“We put cracks—basically separating the floors—down the length of the garage so the structure would fall in on itself. Then we went down to the lower level and cracked some of the columns,” Daniel says.
While the project went off without a hitch, Daniel says the UT Austin job presented a number of challenges for the company.
“The first challenge was having no plans, or as-builts, to reference,” Daniel says. “So, we kind of had a design implosion and design demolition we had to orchestrate, which is always challenging because you don’t know the loads of the structure or what is supporting what. That was the first big challenge. The second big challenge was we had to contend with the city of Austin, which wasn’t thrilled we had to do an implosion in the first place. They’ve only done three in the history of the city, and the first didn’t go according to plan, so they were hesitant.
“The other issue was we had to pretty much do this on an emergency time frame. We had to rush because the city would only let us implode the structure over the holiday break [of the UT Austin students] so they wouldn’t be as impacted by the disruption. This resulted in us having to get six weeks of work done in about two weeks. Lastly, the garage being located in such a highly residential area was a challenge. A lot of implosions take place in urban areas without residents to contend with. This project was in a neighborhood where we were surrounded by a lot of multi-family buildings everywhere, so we had to be extra cautious.”
Following the implosion, crews worked to clean up the resulting metal and concrete. According to Daniel, the concrete is being shipped to a C&D recycler to be repurposed for future projects.
Watch the video of the UT Austin garage implosion, courtesy of Ulrich Productions: