KU’s McCollum Hall comes down Wednesday in 18 seconds with 750 pounds of explosives

McCollum Hall on the campus of Kansas University, pictured on July 2, 2015.

At 9 a.m. sharp on Wednesday, McCollum Hall’s story will end in dramatic fashion.

About 750 pounds of explosives — divided among some 2,000 small holes throughout the building — will detonate.

In 18 seconds, the 10-story, three-wing, 220,000-square-foot residence hall will become a pile of rubble.

“Don’t blink,” said project manager Steve Tripp of Midland Wrecking Inc., who explained the plan for imploding the large structure.

Tripp’s company, based in Kansas City, Kan., has demolished a couple smaller structures in Lawrence, including Burt Hall on the Kansas University campus and a wing of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, he said. McCollum isn’t the largest building they’ve done, but it’s definitely “larger than a typical job.”

It’s also probably better known than a typical job — Tripp said even he, in speaking about the upcoming project, is always running into people who’ve stayed there.

Opened in 1965 at 1800 Engel Road, McCollum initially housed 910 students. It has been the king — at least in size — of KU’s Daisy Hill dorms ever since.

Tripp’s company has been preparing the building for implosion since Oct. 1.

LJWorld live stream: McCollum Hall demolition

Can’t make it to campus? Check back to LJWorld.com Wednesday morning for a live stream of the McCollum Hall implosion.

Pre-demolition has included removing and hauling off all soft material such as wood and sheetrock, and removing tons of metals for recycling.

To prevent debris from flying out through openings in the building, he said, they’ve installed a protective cover of chain-link fence with geotextile fabric around all the “shot floors, or the floors on which explosives will go.”

At McCollum, those are the basement and the second, fifth and sixth floors. Tripp said his crews have spent the past four weeks drilling about 2,000 holes into columns of each floor.

That, he said, is where the dynamite will go.

Blast engineering is handled by a specialist, who travels around the country doing just that, Tripp said.

Steve Pettigrew, of Contract Drilling and Blasting, and crews started filling all those holes with explosives (a whole or partial gel stick in each hole) on Friday and should finish Tuesday, Tripp said.

The planned “blasting pattern” for McCollum will help ensure the whole building goes down and falls in the right place.

Fuses are designed to burn for certain lengths of time, and Pettigrew designed the plan so the first charges will detonate in the core of the building — where all three wings come together — then propagate outward toward the ends of each wing.

“That time is measured in milliseconds so it happens very quickly,” Tripp said of the multiple explosions. “Sometimes it’s indistinguishable.”

When the building is down, crews will start crushing the concrete, leaving some on site as backfill and hauling some off, Tripp said. A dirt contractor will finish grading the area.

That process is expected to take until February, Tripp said.

Then — no doubt to the joy of many Daisy Hill residents — KU plans to install a parking lot.

McCollum Hall implosion

When: 9 a.m. Wednesday — Within a minute prior to detonation, three siren blasts will sound.

Where: Northeast corner of 19th and Iowa streets

Watch live: The Journal-World will live-stream video of the implosion at LJWorld.com.

Road closures: From 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. surrounding the site.

Reminisce: McCollum is home to tens of thousands of KU students’ memories. Read and share stories on the KU Student Housing website, housing.ku.edu/residence-halls/mccollum.

Road closures

Kansas University has announced the following road closures between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, when McCollum Hall is scheduled for implosion.

15th and Iowa

• Iowa Street will be closed from 21st to 15th streets.

• Although the northbound lane of Iowa from 23rd to 21st streets will be open, traffic must exit onto Constant Avenue at 21st Street.

• The intersection at 15th Street and Engel Road will be closed.

West Campus

KU’s West Campus employees should enter the parking lots from Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Road or by driving through the Park and Ride lots at 23rd at Iowa streets.

• There will be barricades at 19th Street and Constant Avenue and Irving Hill Road and Constant Avenue.

• Irving Hill Bridge will be closed, and Irving Hill Road will be blocked from south of Jayhawker Towers to the bridge.

19th Street

• 19th Street westbound will be closed from Naismith Drive to Constant Avenue.

• Barricades will be at Bagley Drive, Stewart Avenue, Ellis Drive, Anna Drive and Ousdahl Road, which will effectively close those streets. Ousdahl residents will be able to exit their homes headed east on 19th St.