Construction of Centennial Hall Begins with Deconstruction

Published on June 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Executive Editor
Contributing Writer

Demolition of 224 Partridge St., May 27. Demolitions began with 252 and 254 Partridge St. on May 13. (Photo: Ian Benjamin)

This summer construction of the new dormitory between Morris and Madison, recently christened Centennial Hall, began with the deconstruction of the buildings which formerly occupied the lot. Demolition began on the evening of May 12 with the destruction of the former apartment buildings at 252 and 254 Partridge St. These were followed by the demolition of 11 other structures on Yates St., Morris St., Partridge St. and Madison Ave.

The demolition work was contracted to Dan’s Hauling and Demolition of Wynantskill, a sub-contractor for the general construction manager Sano-Rubin Construction Co. of Albany. Prior to the demolition of each structure historically significant items, hazardous materials and utilities were removed. Prior to demolition the Historic Albany Foundation was brought in to assess the structures. They removed stair railings, cast iron radiators, moldings, doors, and hardware among other items. These items were then brought to the Historic Albany Foundation’s parts warehouse from where they will be sold to designers, architects and contractors etc. for restoration projects. Of the hazardous materials one of the more prevalent was asbestos, which was removed by employees from Dano-Tech. The last building to be demolished, 920 Madison, required extensive removal of asbestos-laden roof tiles.

Dan’s Demolition used an excavator with a grapple—a claw-like attachment—to demolish most of the structures—a bucket attachment was occasionally used. The operator would first strip much of the siding off a building and then would puncture the wall furthest from the street. The operator would then try to collapse the interior of the structure into the basement. With much of the debris below ground the operator would then push the walls into the building. Videos of the demolitions as they happened can be found  on our YouTube account.

As part of the environment-friendly practices by which Centennial Hall is being built, some of the  debris are being recycled. According to Colleen Breiner, assistant marketing director for Sano-Rubin Construction, approximately 30% of the debris from the demolitions was recycled. This material included foundations, masonry, aluminum siding and salvageable steel. The majority of the debris from the demolitions were taken to the West Seneca Landfill.

Other sustainable practices which will be utilized in the construction include geothermal wells for heating/cooling and insulation beyond building code requirements. The contractors will also be using paints, sealing and coating which have low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in them. Such compounds are toxic to humans and tend to evaporate into the air, thereby posing a substantial health-risk. Breiner stated that “Once completed, the building will be 26% more efficient than standard building construction.”

She also stated that, “the new dorm is scheduled to be completed by June 2012 for students to move in for the 2012 – 2013. academic year.” This date is in accordance with the Site Redevelopment Plan schedule which has work commencing on December 1, 2010 and ending on July 1, 2012.

The site work began during the week of June 5 with the excavation of the building’s foundation footprint. In the words of John Bryant, Saint Rose assistant vice-president for facilities, the site work ensures that “the soil [is] structurally suitable and properly compacted prior to forming and installation of concrete footings and foundation walls.” Installation of the footings and foundation walls is expected begin near the end of June.

A front rendering of the new dormitory. (Courtesy of Saint Rose)

A rear rendering of the new dormitory. (Courtesy of Saint Rose)

Despite working in close proximity to busy roadways the demolition crew kept the debris from each building close to, if not within, the building’s own footprint. A safety concern during any construction work is dust, especially construction which involves demolition. Construction dust can contain particulates that are harmful if inhaled or, in large quantity, can cause a dangerous reduction in sight-distance for motorists on local roadways. Although each demolition was consistently hosed with water to dampen the dust, on a couple of rare occasions a strong gust of wind would cause a dust billow to pass out onto the street. One such instance was during the demolition of 224 Partridge St. In this instance the demolition crews quickly mitigated the hazard by halting until the wind was less strong while hosing the site further.

The demolitions of 252 and 254 Partridge St. were followed by the apartment building at 254 on the morning of May 13. Following these a series of other buildings were demolished, including the former law offices of Alice K. Berke, which were demolished between May 19 and May 21.  Structural demolition concluded with the fall of 920 Madison in early June.

Centennial Hall was designed by EYP Architecture & Engineering of Albany. They also designed the Thelma Lally School of Education. Sano-Rubin Construction Co. also has history with the College, having previously worked on the Camelot Community Room upgrade and the EAC expansion and renovation.