Crews complete LANL administration building demolition

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Lab: Officals say 95 percent of it was recyclable

By The Staff

Demolition of the former Administration Building at the Los Alamos National Laboratory is complete.


The 316,500-square-foot building that had been home to seven lab directors was completed five months ahead of the original schedule and significantly under budget.

After we removed all regulated, hazardous materials such as asbestos, our team was able to recycle about 95 percent of the building,” said Darrik Stafford, LANL’s project director for the demolition.

“At more than 300,000 square feet, this was a sizable undertaking,” added John Gallegos of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Site Office. “I am pleased with the results of this project.”

ARSEC Environmental, LLC was the general contractor for the demolition of the structure—four stories plus a basement—which opened in 1956 and closed in September 2008. Norris Bradbury was the first Lab director to occupy the building. Bradbury followed J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Lab’s first director. Bradbury was director from 1945 to 1970.

Project activities started in April 2009. LANL moved its administrative functions and lab directors in 2006 to the National Security Sciences Building, immediately northwest of the former facility.

Stafford outlined the items that were recycled from the building.

“The vast majority was concrete that we took to the Los Alamos County landfill and we returned it to the site as crushed backfill,” Stafford said.

As well as the 35 tons of concrete, the project also recycled 2,030 tons of scrap metal and 6,500 fluorescent lamp tubes.

“Those were put in the bulb crusher and that generated 18 drums of crushed bulb media. The drums contained the glass, lead buttons as well as the powder that has the mercury. All of that material was sent to a recycling recovery facility in Arizona.

 In addition, they crushed 1,900 incandescent bulbs.

“They have a lead button but no mercury. The subcontractor used a manual crushing system for recycling,” Stafford said.

They also made numerous trips to the Los Alamos transfer station to get rid of construction debris like drywall, glass, and carpet and fiberglass insulation.

They also were able to salvage 816 wood doors.

“In the early stages, there was quite a bit of furniture that we had to remove and we sent 56 truckloads to a local company for auctions. So we were able to save the lab some money there.”

Stafford said there were other challenges.

His crews had to deal with a tremendous amount of asbestos and PCBs abatement.

The other big challenge was demolition. Crews were bringing down the building, which sat about 20 feet from the present administration building.

“There were no surprises but it was a challenge,” Stafford said. “We came up with a demolition technique that came up midstream. We had a 4x4 demolition technique and where you take your individual floor and roof decks and demolish them piece by piece and we did it with equipment on the same floor. Piece by piece, we pulled the structural columns. It is not widely used in industry.

“It was challenging because it was very close to an adjacent structure (the NNSB Building) and when we were working on a wing north, we had about 20 people looking down at our operation. It was quite a big success.”

Demolition of the former Administration Building also helps Los Alamos meet an NNSA directive to reduce its structural footprint, modernize its infrastructure, and provide LANL workers with safe, energy-efficient facilities. Between 2010 and 2014, LANL anticipates removing nearly 1 million square feet (including the Administration Building) as part of its footprint reduction strategy.

The site of the former Administration Building, in the short term, will become an open area to include sidewalks, low-maintenance landscaping, and parking for about 140 vehicles. Longer term, land also will be available for construction of facilities.
John Severance contributed to this report.