One of Utah State University’s storied residence halls, Valley View Tower, is being demolished — but not in the way that a lot of people would like to see.
Joe Beck, an architect and project coordinator with USU Facilities, said the residence hall cannot get the controlled detonation treatment many stadiums and high rises do because it was built with post-tensioned slabs, meaning the concrete is secured by a network of steel cables.
“Forty to fifty years later, we’re taking the concrete apart and we have to release the tension on those cables slowly — otherwise, it will fall over one way or another and do some major damage,” Beck said. “It could actually fall outward and take out some of the adjacent buildings.”
The state of Utah is running the demolition project, according to Beck, and USU hired a general contractor, Logan-based Spindler Construction. Spindler then subcontracted with Grant Mackay Demolition Company to do the actual work.
Valley Tower should be down by the time fall semester starts on Aug. 26, according to Beck. It will then take another month to haul off and separate all the material.
As of now, three machines are at work demolishing the building, Beck said.
The main machine that’s combing through the building chunks at a time has a 100-foot reach, not something a lot of machines can claim, Beck said. Another machine separates and organizes the debris. The third one at ground level moves debris away and keeps it compacted up against the building so it doesn’t get away, he said. In addition, personnel are on the ground with hoses keeping the dust down.
“It’s a slow process; it isn’t very exciting, but it is what it is,” Beck said.
A camera is position on top of a nearby building so the contractors and USU can watch the demolition for security and tracking purposes, according to Beck.
Aside from that, Beck hopes the webcam encourages people to be safe and stay away from the demolition site.
“We would prefer people did that instead of come up and try to come up and get inside the confines of the project,” Beck said. “People are curious by nature and to a lot of people … fences don’t mean anything.”
Beck hopes that people watching the camera feed can learn that demolition often doesn’t come in the form of “the grand implosion.”
“For a month prior, I had many, many calls of people saying, ‘When are you going to blow up the building?’ There’s more than one way to do that.”
Valley Tower Tower, along with its twin, Mountain View Tower, was built in the mid-1960s. In 2016, USU announced plans to tear down the two residence halls. In 2017, Mountain View was vacated and replaced by a new dorm, Central Suites.
Of Valley View, Beck said, “it’s at the point now where the maintenance on the building is costing more than it should (and) to improve the maintenance on there would be as costly as the new building.”