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Implosion - Ka-boom!

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For those who are not yet aware of it, the old Continental National Bank Building (now known as Landmark Tower) in downtown Fort Worth is scheduled to be imploded this Saturday morning, March 18th sometime between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM.

Long time Metrolplex residents might remember the building as the one that had the revolving digital clock on top. The clock was both the world's largest digital clock, world's largest revolving clock and the world's largest four paneled sign. Digital clocks were rather rare in 1957 when it was added to the top of the recently completed building. The clock went dark around 1990 and was removed after it and the building's aluminum facade suffered considerable damage from the tornado that hit downtown Fort Worth in March 2000. The clock used to remind me of that rooftop calendar in Atlas Shrugged.

The building was also the world's largest welded building when it was completed and currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world's longest exterior fire escape. Actually, it is very rare for buildings in the International style to have fire escapes. By the 1950s, interior fire escapes were the norm on new buildings for reasons of safety and aesthetics.

I know someone who has some inside knowledge with the owners of the building and he says that it has major structural problems resulting from both the tornado damage and from the original design. The building is basically damaged far beyond the cost of any sort of repairs that could possibly make economic sense.

Here is a photo I took of the building in 1994. Note the fire escapes and the large smokestack - both features that are highly unusual on buildings of such recent construction. By this time, the clock had been removed.


I have never been very fond of International style buildings - and this one was allowed to really get in bad shape over the years. I am so used to seeing it on the skyline that, in an odd sort of way, I will actually miss the thing.

For up-to-the minute news about any last minute changes in the demolition time, a good source of information is this thread on the Fort Worth Forum message board on fortwortharchitecture.com That thread also contains some very interesting technical information about the building's design, the implications it will have on the demolition and technical information about the implosion. You will also find postings with photos of the building under construction and from its glory days as well as photos from the past few weeks of the building being prepared for the explosion.

I do plan on being present for the implosion with my digital camera and tripod. This will be the first implosion I have ever seen - so I have no idea whether my photos will come out or not. Hopefully, I will be able to click the shutter at just the right moment. My camera does have a fast frame feature so hopefully I will be able to take several shots of it as it collapses. If they do come out, I will be sure to post them here - though I am sure every local newspaper and television station website will have plenty of video of it as well. This will be the tallest building ever imploded in Texas so it will be a pretty significant media event.

Unfortunately, rain and thunderstorms are currently in the forecast for Saturday morning - so I don't know what impact that will have on the implosion schedule. Therefore, if you plan to attend, it will probably be a good idea to check that thread I linked to for any last minute updates before you head out. As long as there is no lightening nearby, I don't mind standing in a downpour - I won't melt. But I don't think my digital camera will take too kindly to that.

Edited by Dismuke
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They say memory is the second thing to go ... :lol:

Gee, I wonder what the first thing to go is.

Let's see...... I still have my hair, so that's not it.

I still have my teeth.

I still have my dashingly handsome good looks, so that can't be it.

Hmmmmm. I wonder what it could be.......

Oh! Wait. I think I have it figured out. He must be talking about eyesight.

Ever since somebody forwarded me those Cindy Sheehan nudie pics that have been circulating around the Internet, my vision - and my computer monitor - has never been quite the same. What a truly traumatic way to be reminded that there is no mind-body dichotomy. :pirate:

Edited by Dismuke
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I made it to the implosion and was able to get some pictures. It took place about 20 minutes before what all the newspapers were saying it would. But since I knew what the warning sirens meant, I was able to get my camera turned on and ready in time.

My vantage point, under the porch of the Convention Center "flying saucer," was not the very best - but I had a roof over my head which was nice in the rain. Moments after the implosion took place a very heavy downpour came through and I got totally soaked why making my way back to my vehicle.











Looks like there is a 10 image per posting limit. So I will put up the rest in a follow up posting.

(implosion photos continued)




I was curious as to what the debris looked like - but I was not able to find a place where I could get much of a view. I will probably make a trip downtown later today after the roads are back open and see if I can get a good photo of the debris pile.


More or less the same place where the other photos were taken but after the dust had cleared.


This would have been a great place - but it was already crowded before 7:00 AM and I knew that the odds of my being able to have a clear shot with so many people there were slim to none.

John Roberts of forwortharchitecture.com was able to get a pass to sit in the VIP area for XTO Energy (owner of the building) employees. The photos he took are GREAT and can be viewed in this Fort Worth Forum posting. Follow the thread as others have put up some very interesting photos as well. Also, follow the link in kenkuhl's posting to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram streaming video of the implosion - it is excellent.

Now if they would just implode some of the 1960s and 1970s monstrosities that blight Fort Worth's and other skylines across the country, that would be really neat.

Edited by Dismuke
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Very nice! :lol:

Do you know what will be built in its place?

In the short term, nothing. The site will be used as a surface parking lot for employees of XTO Energy which is headquartered in the historic W.T.Waggoner Building - the building with the flag on it in the left hand side of the photos. XTO is a very successful and fast growing natural gas company and they have purchased a couple of other historic skyscrapers in the area for use as offices. They basically bought the Landmark Tower which was imploded today because the thing had become a really big eyesore and was sort of a blight to all of the other properties they have in the area, some of which have been very lovingly restored to their early 1900s grandeur. XTO bought the tower so that they could either fix it up or get rid of it - and the studies showed that it was beyond fixing up. There is speculation that, since XTO keeps outgrowing the buildings they buy, they will someday build a new headquarters on the site. There was a rumor that they were going to put up a 50 story building sooner rather than later, but that has been officially denied.

Also, if you notice in my photographs, as the Landmark Tower comes down there is a tall green skyscraper that becomes visible in the background. That building, currently called The Tower was the old Bank One Tower and that too came very close to being imploded a few years ago.

The Bank One Tower was an all glass skyscraper which was very heavily damaged by the March 2000 tornado that hit downtown Fort Worth. Most of its windows were blown out and the inside was heavily damaged as well. After some months the insurance company declared the building to be a total loss and reached a cash settlement with the owners on grounds that it would cost more to put it back together than the building was worth. Plans were made to implode the building in the middle of the night when there would be few spectators due to the concerns that an implosion might be traumatic on account of 9-11 (thank goodness today's implosion shows we have gotten past that silliness - the last thing we need to do is make such concessions in our lives to terrorists). However, for reasons I am not completely sure of, after 9-11 the price of insurance premiums covering implosions skyrocketed and preliminarily interior demolition work was halted. The building was then sealed shut - and for about a year, the Fort Worth skyline boasted a 37 story formerly glass skyscraper covered up with plywood, which was a rather odd sight to say the least. Eventually a developer bought the property and managed to get the city to give him some pretty significant tax breaks for redeveloping it. The building has been entirely converted into luxury condominiums and has been given a completely new exterior. As you can see in the photos, it is not an especially nice looking building - but it is a whole lot nicer than the very bleak early 1970s Brutalist appearance it had before the tornado hit it.

Edited by Dismuke
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I looked at the some of the photo sequences you mentioned and it appears that the building had a noticeable tilt as it was falling in some of the shots, as though it had a significant sideways velocity (tipping over) rather than just collapsing downwards. Did you hear any commentary about that? Presumably the best planned implosion would result in the building strictly falling down and not tipping sideways, which would be a cataclysm.

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I looked at the some of the photo sequences you mentioned and it appears that the building had a noticeable tilt as it was falling in some of the shots, as though it had a significant sideways velocity (tipping over) rather than just collapsing downwards. Did you hear any commentary about that? Presumably the best planned implosion would result in the building strictly falling down and not tipping sideways, which would be a cataclysm.

Phil, you are correct, the building did fall slightly at an angle towards its northwest corner - and this was intentional.

The building occupied the southeast quarter of a city block which was otherwise empty and used as surface parking. Directly across the street to the building's east is the old Baker Building which XTO had purchased and spent a lot of money ripping off the tacky looking concrete panels that were affixed to its base in a typically sleezy 1960s "modernization" and restoring the base to its 1920s appearance. Had the Landmark Tower come straight down, there probably would have been a certain amount of risk to the recently completed work on the Baker Building. So what they did was excavate a huge hole on the rest of the block and use the earth and rubble from the building's interior demolition to build up a huge wall around the block's perimeter. The building was imploded at an angle so that it would fall into that excavated hole and the earthen wall surrounding the block helped contain and minimize the amount of debris that would fall outside the lot.

When I first learned through the grapevine that the tower was going to come down, the story I was told was that the upper floors were going to be razed by dismantling and that only the bottom 15 stories were to be imploded. So when it came out that they were going to implode the whole thing, I was very pleasantly surprised.

I just got back from a second visit to downtown. I was hoping to get close to the site, but the streets are still blocked off. There were some windows knocked out in the Baker Building and a single window knocked out in another building - but I am told that window damage to surrounding buildings is almost unavoidable in these cases and can be caused by the shock waves of the blast as much as by flying debris. I am about to transfer what pictures I was able to take of the rubble from my camera to my computer and once I have them uploaded to my web server, I will post a few.

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Ok - here are the pictures I took of the rubble. I will add comments as I go along. I have posted the same photos on the Fort Worth Forum but I have changed the commentary here to address the previous posting and made it more appropriate for people who are not familiar with Fort Worth.


Looking at the northwest corner of the rubble. This is the direction towards which the tower was deliberately made to fall. I thought I read somewhere that there would be a rubble pile 6 stories tall. It looks not much taller than 2 stories to me. You can see the earthen wall I talked about made from the excavation of the rest of the block. Notice how almost all of the debris was contained by the wall. Pretty amazing when one considers that it contains the rubble of a 30 story building.


A closer view from the same location


The building with several broken windows is the Baker Building. One window was broken in the TXU Electric Building to the right. The boarded up windows in the brick skyscraper in the background above the Baker Building are the result of the 2000 tornado. That building - which looks much better when viewed from its front side - is in the process of being converted to loft apartments


Looking at the northeast corner of the block that the building stood on. I accidentally walked into what was supposed to be secured area to take this - but the policeman was very nice and let me take a couple of pictures since I was already there.


A more zoomed in view.


This is an antique clock on the corner of the Baker Building which was placed there in the 1920s when the building was the First National Bank. The clock was removed when the bank vacated the building in the 1960s and the building's base was botched up with ugly concrete pre-fab panels in an attempt to appeal to the hippie generation. When the original base was recently recreated, the clock was rediscovered in the basement of the building that the bank moved to and was put back in its original location. Because it is directly across the street from the building which was imploded, the clock's safety was the very first question I had after the implosion and one of the things I was most interested in checking out when I returned to downtown. Fortunately, it looks like it made it ok.


I was wrong in my previous posting about only two buildigs suffering window damage. There was also a broken window in this building, the Petroleum Building which is also owned by XTO Energy.


There were plenty of window company trucks on the street loaded with plywood.


The ugly Soviet style monument to Third World architecture in this photo is the SBC Building and is a huge blight on the city's skyline - and hopefully we will get lucky and it will be the next thing to get imploded. The building you can partially see on the right is the 1907 Flatiron Building which is in the process of being restored.


Looking towards the former southeast corner of where the Landmark Tower stood with the W.T. Waggoner Building on the left.

Here is where the message board software is going to stop allowing me to post any more messages in the posting. I will put the rest in a second posting - which I suspect will be automatically merged back into a single posting. Go figure!



View of southeast side of block. Since this is the side of the block where the building stood and no earthen wall was built, this is where one can see the most rubble.


A closer view of the rubble.


Here you can see the interior portion of the earthen wall covered with what appears to be Astro turf. It is amazing how such a tall building was able to fit into that hole.


This is the Burk Burnett Building. It was Fort Worth's first real skyscraper and was built in 1914.

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