History venerates the builders of great bridges, dams, and towers. But rare are commemorative plaques for the un-builders—those charged with the equally heroic task of dismantling those grand structures, once they become dowdy, obsolete, or downright dangerous. Herewith, five case studies in the art of mega-destruction—starting with the old, seismically shaky eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. Also: remodeling NASA’s rocket assembly building, scrapping the world’s longest aircraft carrier, recycling a supercomputer, and moving a river to remove a dam.
[MORE: The Dangerous Art of Tearing Down Bridges, Dams, and Aircraft Carriers]
I think about this a lot. How we put so much time and money and energy into controlling/circumventing nature and then it all become rubble at the end of the day anyway.
Something that’s always bothered me is how short the lifespan is of a sports arena can be. For example:
- Philadelphia Veterans Stadium – opened in 1971, demolished in 2004
- Omni Coliseum (Atlanta) – opened in 1972, demolished in 1997
- Richfield Coliseum (Cleveland) – opened in 1974, demolished in 1999
- Kingdome (Seattle) – opened in 1976, demolished in 2000
These stadiums cost millions of dollars to build. Then twenty-something years later, millions more are spent on their destruction. And then several more hundreds of millions of dollars are spent building a replacement arena (or arenas, in Seattle and Philadelphia’s case). Sometimes it’s due to poor construction, sometimes due to poor planning, but there seems to be a special kind of short-sightedness that goes along with a sports arena.
But I guess at least blowing up stadiums is fun.