The partially built Hard Rock Hotel and condos on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans collapsed last week killing three workers and injuring at least 30. The collapse, the cause of which is still under investigation, demolished parts of 11 floors of the structure, collapsed the “Buck Lift” and destabilized the two cranes that were anchored to the building. Since the original incident, the two cranes have been a threat to the safety of the rescue and recovery crews who were operating on the site. The cranes were damaged worse than most initially thought and were an ongoing threat with the potential of collapsing on the existing rubble, or worse, collapsing on adjacent structures around the site.
Because of that threat, demolition experts and structural engineers were brought to the site, and they devised a plan to demolish the cranes and make it possible to retrieve the two workers’ bodies still on site and to make it possible for the building to be demolished.
The crane demo was finally accomplished on Sunday, October 20. According to the New Orleans Fire Marshal Tim McConnell, “The demolition could not have gone better.” It is clear from the video that the simultaneous explosions dropped one of the cranes completely with the boom and the counterweights falling into the street. The second crane boom dropped onto the structure of the building and the counterweight dropped into the rubble of the collapsed building. The only hiccup, according to the fire marshal was that the boom from the first crane fell vertically into the street (Rampart) and buried itself into the street and a sewer line that runs under the street. The plan was for it to fall on the rubble pile, but it missed.
The Mayor, when asked whether salvage could begin, and the bodies recovered from the rubble pile now that the cranes were gone, said that she doesn’t want anything salvaged on the original building, but that she wants a total demolition. Whether the developers and their insurance agents will agree with that remains to be seen in light of the lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of the workers.
You can see the video of the demolition and the news conference at the links below: