A Coordinated Effort
January 17, 2023
D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company Inc. (DHG) began discussions with the University of Alabama (UA) for the demolition of the Tutwiler Residence Hall after successfully imploding its sister dorm, Rose Towers, on July 4, 2012. The Tutwiler was a 13-story, 270,000-square-foot, concrete women’s residence hall on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was built in 1966 to house freshmen female students, as it did until 2022. Over the years, it also housed many different summer camp participants, not leaving much unoccupied time for the university to make upgrades.
UA began advertising for bids in November 2021 and requested all interested bidders to submit a prequalification packet by the end of that month. A week later, the university notified six potential bidders of their successful prequalification. The university held a pre-bid meeting in mid-December, and bids were to be turned in on Jan. 18, 2022, when the lowest bidder was awarded the contract.
As it was the successful low bidder on the Tutwiler project, DHG immediately began discussions with the university on planning for the set implosion date of July 4, 2022. Due to classes beginning in early August, the debris from this implosion would have to be removed by July 30. Students were set to move out of the 13-story dorm on May 7. DHG and UA agreed to use the following week for first responder training in the building.
It’s not often a city’s police and fire department can use a structure of this size for live training, so when the opportunity arose, the university’s police department led a weeklong training exercise for first responders from across the state through May 15. The university also used this time to salvage numerous items from the building that could be reused around campus.
With only 50 days until a scheduled implosion date, DHG had to prepare the building for demolition. Before that could begin, a massive asbestos abatement job had to take place. DHG contracted Winter Environmental to take on this task. Before asbestos abatement could begin, DHG and Winter had to remove all furniture and trash left behind after the 1,029 residents moved out.
During the first three days on the site, 45 thirty cubic yard dumpers were filled with trash and debris from the building. As the abatement work progressed, numerous areas with additional asbestos were found in the building that were not on the original asbestos survey. Winter completed the asbestos abatement in 31 days with the help of up to 105 workers on the site at their maximum capacity.
DHG and Winter coordinated the abatement schedule to allow preparation for the building implosion to begin approximately two weeks after abatement began. DHG contracted Dykon Explosive Demolition as the blasting contractor for this project. With the guidance of professional engineer Paul Rose, a plan was developed where five floors of the building would be completely stripped out and loaded with explosives. DHG began stripping-out floors 1, 2, 4, 7 and 10 to prep them for drilling.
The construction of the Tutwiler Residence Hall was concrete with six columns in the core and shear walls down each of the three wings of the building. Rose engineered a plan to remove sections of the shear walls to make columns that could be drilled and loaded with explosives. DHG used a crane to lift compact utility loaders to each of the four upper floors to complete this task. With the help of Dykon, over 1,600 holes were drilled in the structure and 500 pounds of explosives were loaded for the implosion.
Since the residence hall was located near sorority houses, a new dorm, parking deck, private residences and a retail center, many protective measures had to be put into place. Approximately 750 feet of 30-foot high blast curtains were installed on three sides of the hall to prevent debris and dust from leaving the project site. HVAC units on the surrounding structures had to be shut down and covered with plastic to prevent them from dust intake. The protective measures all had to be installed on July 3 due to the high temperatures in Tuscaloosa during the month of July.
At 7 a.m. on July 4, 2022, the hall was successfully imploded. After initial inspection by DHG and Dykon, the allclear was given, and DHG crews immediately began removing all the protective measures that had been put in place and cleaning the surrounding streets so they could be reopened to the public. DHG began removing the concrete and debris from the site on July 5 and successfully removed 1,112 loads of rubble from the site in 10 days, totaling 32,100 tons of mostly concrete debris.
Removal of foundations and other site improvements were successfully removed by July 30, allowing the site restoration contractor to begin their work on the project site. All concrete removed from the site was hauled to another location on the UA campus, where it is currently being crushed for re-use on other campus projects. DHG has also recycled over 600 tons of metals from this project, resulting in 97% of the construction and demolition debris from this project being diverted from disposal in a landfill