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Here’s the company that’s going to bring down Martin Tower

It made the Riviera, a legendary Las Vegas casino of the Rat Pack era, and Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium disappear in mere seconds.It’s toppled four, 3,000-ton blast furnaces at U.S. Steel in Youngstown, Ohio, and choreographed a tricky implosion of the remnants of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the target of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.Now, Controlled Demolition Inc., based in Phoenix, Md., is coming to the Lehigh Valley to take down the 21-story Martin Tower.Martin Tower owners Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick have hired Controlled Demolition as the contractor in the May 19 demolition of the Lehigh Valley’s tallest building, Bethlehem officials confirmed Tuesday.“They’re big. They know what they’re doing,” said Robert Novatnack, Bethlehem’s emergency management director. “We’re confident they’ll do it right.”Martin Tower, vacant a dozen years, is coming down to make room for a mixed-use development that will include 528 garden-style apartments, retail, office buildings, a hotel and a gas station.Other contractors have already taken down ancillary buildings around the tower through mechanical demolition.The owners sought a specialized firm with a national reputation to demolish the 332-foot-tall, cruciform building that once served as the world headquarters of Bethlehem Steel.“They’re the gold standard with a history that goes back to 1947,” said Duane Wagner, a representative of the developers.Bethlehem sets date for Martin Tower implosionControlled Demolition has met with city officials on the site as they plan road closures, safety zones and other restrictions around the 53-acre property at 1170 Eighth Ave. during the implosion. The details, including a map of the restricted access and an exact time, are expected to be released in a couple of weeks.Controlled Demolition bills itself as imploding tall structures with such precision the building falls within its own footprint. The company’s roots stretch back to 1947 when Jack Loizeaux, a Baltimore forester, used dynamite to blow up tree stumps and went on to take down chimneys, bridges and other structures, according to published reports.The company, now in the family for three generations, has grown and since tackled tall structures, including the 1,201-foot Omega Radio Tower in Argentina. Their portfolio includes buildings in dense urban areas as well as remote locations. In a pro bono demolition, Controlled Demolition in 2000 imploded the Gettysburg National Tower, which USA Today once called “the ugliest commercial structure to ever intrude on the sanctity of a national park.”Its explosions have been featured in Hollywood, including “Batman: The Dark Knight,” “Lethal Weapon 3,” “Demolition Man” and “Child’s Play.”Martin Tower, which opened in 1972, sits on a 53-acre campus in west Bethlehem. It’s close to Route 378, Monocacy Creek and the historic Burnside Plantation and a commercial corridor dotted with medical office buildings.Doomed Martin Tower relics to be preserved by Bethlehem museum of industrial historyFew details about the mechanics of the demolition have been released so far. Wagner has described it as an implosion created by sequenced explosions.The National Demolition Association describes an implosion as using explosives “to bring about the gravitational collapse” of a structure. Less than 1% of all demolition are implosions, according to the association.The implosion of Martin Tower will take down thousands of tons of steel. There’s 15,894 tons of structural steel and 1,500 panels of 20- to 25-foot-wide and 8-foot-high porcelainized steel plate, according to the petition prepared in 2010 by Noble Preservation Inc. on behalf of the owners to get Martin Tower on the National Register of Historic Places. The construction of Martin Tower also included 110,000 feet of steel ductwork, 165,000 feet of steel pipe and 42,650 feet of wire rope, according to the petition.Much of the interior character of the once opulent offices has been gutted over the last two years as contractors stripped the walls to the beams in order to get remove asbestos in preparation for demolition.Martin Tower is among the recent remnants of Bethlehem Steel to disappear. The company stopped making steel at its hometown plant in 1995 and declared bankruptcy in 2001. Its assets were sold in 2003. Martin Tower has been vacant since 2007.Among Bethlehem Steel’s remaining landmark structures are Steel General Offices, the blast furnaces and No. 2 Machine Shop, all on the South Side, where the steelmaking took place.
Source: Morningcall

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