UAMS Prepares for Feb. 19 Dorm Implosion

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Contractors are now stripping the 10-story student dormitory on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) campus down to its concrete shell in preparation for its February demolition to make room for a major hospital expansion.


About 50 pounds of explosives will bring down the 45-year-old dormitory during the implosion, scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 19. The demolition of the dorm, along with tearing down the adjacent Jeff Banks Student Union, is part of the ongoing $255 million UAMS campus expansion.


“Demolishing the dorm allows us to move forward with our expansion so we can deliver the kind of patient care and education programs that Arkansas needs and deserves,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “The implosion will be an exciting event, but there is a lot of preparation involved to ensure it is conducted with a minimum of disruption for our patients, students, employees and neighbors.”


Site preparations will continue up until the February implosion date as interior walls are removed to reduce the amount of dust generated. The work started in mid 2005 when it was closed to students. Next, all furnishings and other items were taken out and asbestos was removed.


Maryland-based Controlled Demolition Inc. is leading the dorm demolition project. The company holds several world records for its work, including demolition of the Seattle Kingdome, the largest structure demolished by explosives. Recently, the company was responsible for imploding the 21-story Baptist Memorial Hospital main tower in Memphis.


Chandler Demolition Co. of Memphis is assisting with the demolition as is the general contractor for the expansion project, CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock, which previously served as the general contractor for construction of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute building at UAMS.


UAMS also is working with contractors to plan for traffic control, safety and other issues related to the implosion.


A three-block area around the site will be cleared of traffic and people just before the implosion. Those in the Ward Tower of the UAMS Medical Center and the John L. McClellan Veteran’s Hospital will be moved away from exterior walls facing the dorm, and the sky bridge connecting the buildings will be closed. Spotters around the site will ensure no one enters the restricted area.


Viewing areas will be set up for spectators.


It will only take seconds for the building to implode. Any ground vibration caused by the implosion is expected to be negligible.


Almost immediately following the implosion, work will begin to clear debris from the site. Sometime after the implosion, the adjacent Jeff Banks Student Union will be torn down and by mid 2006, the entire site will be cleared and ready for work to begin on the 500,000 square-foot hospital addition.


The hospital expansion, with an adjacent parking deck and the Psychiatric Research Institute, are focal points of the $255 million UAMS campus expansion initiative. The hospital addition is expected to be completed in late 2008.


A new residence hall, now under construction, is expected to be finished by fall 2006.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.