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Perfect demolition leaves Dome a fallen souffle
Monday,March 27, 2000
By ROBERT L. JAMIESON Jr. Mail author
Perfectdemolition leaves Dome a fallen souffle
More stories ...
VR tour from the field
Live shot of where the Dome used to be
In a flurry of flashes and booms, the Kingdome -- a storehouse of sports momentsand cultural memories for more than two decades -- rumbled to the ground Sunday in 16.8spectacular seconds.
More than 4,450 pounds of dynamite, unleashed over a spanof tiny delays, blitzed one of the world's largest concrete domes -- one day shy of its24th birthday.
Licensed blaster Thom Doud pushed a button, igniting 21.6 milesof detonation cord. The stadium's roof arches pulsed like holiday lights, and a burst ofexplosives echoed. The building groaned. Then, suddenly, the Kingdome buckled to the oneforce it had defied for years -- gravity.
The 25,000-ton concrete roof crasheddown, shooting a cloud of fine white dust into a blue sky. People watched in awe fromdowntown streets and from flotillas of boats in Elliott Bay.
In Pioneer Square,they raised their arms and cheered -- until, suddenly, the dust cloud -- more than 500feet high -- sent people scrambling like extras in the Blob movie.
But somepeople reveled in the dust. They pulled out scuba and gas masks and watched it settle."It's amazing how something with so much history can disappear so quickly," explainedBrina Sanft, a local musician. "I just want to grab a piece of it and hold onto itforever."
After 20 minutes, the dust cloud thinned, revealing the fate of thestadium that had been pared in recent weeks: It had become a sunken souffle.
"The roof did its job, the gravity engine worked. It provided the energy we needed topull the columns inward," said Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition Inc.,the Maryland-based company whose handiwork brought down the Dome.
"Thedemolition went perfectly," said Tom Gerlach of Turner Construction Co., which isbuilding a new football and soccer stadium on the site. "The relief is palpable."
Immediately after the blast, crews began work to crunch and haul concrete at thesite. Meanwhile, in neighborhoods, phalanxes of street cleaners began to clear dust whileother crews checked for damage.
Seattle fire and police reported no majorinjuries. Authorities, however, reported scattered incidents of broken windows.
The blast changed history.
Gone was the place where people had seen theirfirst Mariners game or Rolling Stones concert; gone was the place visitors had met afuture spouse or sealed a friendship; gone was a piece of Seattle's skyline, a symbol --along with Mount Rainier and the Space Needle -- that defined a mossy corner of thecountry.
"This is one of the few times we've watched the same building go up inour lifetime and come down in our lifetime," said Larry Kreisman, an architecturalhistorian for the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.
"The Kingdome wasprominent. It always had people's attention. They may have liked it. They may havedisliked it. But it was always in their eye."
Thousands of spectators, defyingsuggestions to watch the implosion at home on television, crowded downtown streets andsearched for elevated lookouts with prime views of the stadium's collapse. The implosionof a building that means so much to so many was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
On the 28th floor of the Smith Tower, 2-year-old Wyatt James Kendall shrank from thewindow and sank into his dad's shoulder when the blast touched off.
Smith Towerrumbled and swayed slightly, and the implosion set off a fire alarm.
Peopleapplauded the Kingdome's last show. But some, such as Mark and Elaine Dale of WestSeattle, admitted a bit of sadness. "I look at it as a funeral," said Mark Dale. "It'spart of the skyline. It's kind of ugly, but it's like the ugly cousin you've alwaysliked."
At a park behind Harborview Medical Center, Maille Kessenich, who spentthe night to get a good view, said, "I guess we should be a little sad. But we're not.Destruction's cool."
Even before yesterday's spectacle, regular life in Seattlesustained minor disruptions: Major highways, such as Interstates 5 and 90, were closed orhad traffic slowed; the city imposed a wide restriction area for south downtown, andtraffic detours re-routed Metro buses.
But far fewer people than expectedclogged roadways or tried to gather downtown, transit and fire officials said. And mostmajor roadways were back to normal within 45 minutes of the implosion.
The eventwas broadcast live on Seattle's three major network affiliates, beamed across theInternet and shown in New York's Times Square.
The founder of ControlledDemolition Inc., Jack Loizeaux, whose sons conducted the implosion, did not want to missthe spectacle. He called the Kingdome a feat of engineering.
A key engineerbehind the Kingdome's design was the late John Skilling, who had a hand in designing NewYork's World Trade Center. Another top engineer for the Kingdome, Jack Christiansen, wasdevastated by the implosion.
"It makes me sick," said Christiansen, who oncestood on the Kingdome's roof to prove the stadium would not, as some had claimed, falldown. "Such a sad thing."
Ironically, the stadium's demise was sealed by forcesthat helped to create it: economics. In the 1960s, when the idea began to gather steam,people envisioned it as a way to put Seattle on the map.
Early on, localplanners believed a new stadium would dovetail with economic growth and civic enhancement-- future-looking themes that were cornerstones of the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle.
As part of a 1968 effort called Forward Thrust, voters passed a $40 million bond.Later, following much debate, plans went ahead to put the stadium near the King Streettrain station.
Ground was broken in 1972, and more than three years later, whenconstruction ended, the stadium's price tag had reached $67 million. That, however, couldnot dampen the public's enthusiasm -- more than 54,000 people showed up for the Dome'sinaugural program in 1976.
Yesterday, former Gov. John Spellman, who helpedshepherd the Dome as King County executive from the late 1960s to early 1980s, refused towatch the implosion.
"That would be like going to a family member's autopsy,"said Spellman.
But the implosion attracted the attention of the world, forvarious reasons. "People see a building that has been around for a long time. It amazesthem that something so permanent can turn to rubble in seconds," said Doug Loizeaux,CDI's vice president. He added that he thought some people would watch in anticipationfor something to go awry.
But, the implosion was picture perfect.
Theacupuncture-like placement of explosives in 5,905 holes turned the 250-foot Kingdomemountain into molehills of slab.
The blast crews approached the Kingdome withhealthy respect for its engineering. The stadium had to be strong enough to withstand anearthquake in a seismically active region such as the Puget Sound area.
But italso had to be flexible enough to handle the motion created by the Earth or the shufflingof the more than 73 million visitors.
The construction was a marvel.
Atension ring, at the base of roof, packed 8 million pounds of pressure; and supportcolumns, threaded with rebar, gave the building the equivalent of strong bones.
"It's a mind stretcher," said Mark Loizeaux. After he won the contract to implode theKingdome last year, he drove his rental car to the stadium's parking lot and stared at itfor four hours.
The Dome also was in the public eye because of money; the countystill must pay $206 million for the Kingdome -- costs accrued from interest on originalconstruction bonds, and for roof and ceiling repairs from five years ago. (The money,which will be paid by 2016, will come from a hotel tax and car-rental tax.)
"It's a one-of-a kind situation," said Kreisman, the architectural historian. "Hereit is, we are destroying something, and it isn't even paid off!"
But as sportseconomists have observed across the country, old multi-purpose stadiums do not generateas much money as one-event stadiums.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who ownsthe Seahawks, knew that a healthy portion of a team's money comes from stadium revenue,including money from premium seats and luxury boxes. But the future at the Dome lookedbleak.
The overall Kingdome demolition will cost $9 million.
Implosionwas preferable to a wrecking ball and crane because of the stadium's complex structure.
The crane method would have exposed workers to greater danger and exposed thePioneer Square area to dust and noise for at least two years.
Not only isimplosion faster, but it also shows respect for old buildings, Mark Loizeaux said.
Rather than beat them down for a long time, you knock them out swiftly.
Andyesterday CDI did just that. The Kingdome -- an old friend who meant so much to so many-- was blasted into memory.
P-I reporters Aliya Saperstein, Scott Sunde, HeathFoster, Amy E. Nevala, Lewis Kamb, Judi Hunt and Andrew Schneider contributed to thisreport.
Quelle:http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/kingdome/main.shtml (Archiv-Version vom 23.04.2006)
Penlich, wer ist hier peinlich, Poly?