NewsCovering Kentucky


UK's Kirwan, Blanding dorm towers are coming down one floor at a time, here's why

Posted at 5:47 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 17:53:02-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Demolition on UK's iconic dorm towers is well underway, but you may not have noticed because the project didn't start with the typical loud implosion with explosives or wrecking balls.

Instead, crews are whittling away at the massive 23-story buildings, taking down each floor one at a time.

"The reason that we chose the process that we did in removing our towers is it was efficient," UK Facilities Management Vice President Mary Vosevich said. "It was for the well-being for our campus community and those surrounding us and in particular our adjacency to our medical center. That was paramount to us."

Keith Ingram, the project manager for Capital Project Management at UK, said a typical implosion would generate a lot of dust in the air, which could harm both patients nearby, as well as students and faculty on campus. Therefore, they decided to implement a safer alternative to deconstruct the towers.

Ingram said crews started the process by getting rid of or recycling the buildings' furnishings in February. Then they had to do an asbestos abatement. Next, the roofing materials, window wells and bricks all came off. With the remaining cement blocks and slabs, crews break them up into pieces and throw them down the elevator shafts in the buildings.

Then, the pieces are piled up on-site, and after the buildings are demolishing, the cement will be crushed up and back-filled into the basements and tunnels that are a full floor below grade.

In total, Ingram said 11 holes will need to be filled.

The goal is to have 13 acres of green space where the Kirwan/Blanding Complex once stood. Here is a rendering of what that space could look like:

Vosevich said she hopes students can enjoy the space by Spring 2021.

After the pandemic, she said the university will revisit future plans for the space, including a potential new residence hall.