17 seconds! That’s exactly the time it took for Houston’s historic skyscraper to be reduced to a pile of dust and rubble.
High explosives set off at 11:15 am Sunday demolished the 20-story former Prudential Building in the Texas Medical Center, once considered a masterwork of modern architecture.
The implosion that had been planned at 7:52 a.m. was delayed for a few hours due to a dense fog.
Hundreds of spectators showed up early Sunday morning to watch the collapse of the massive structure. The foundation of the limestone tower was cracking and the building was plagued with asbestos and mold problems.
Warren Rawson, a high school English teacher, said, “I’m sad to see such a classic-looking building go. Houston seems to have a history of ignoring its history.”
“In its glory days, it was an impressive building, but it was time for it to come down.” — Sarah Watson, a spokeswoman for M.D. Anderson
60-year-old building:- The building, known as the Houston Main Building, was opened by Prudential Insurance Co. in 1952 as its southwest regional office.
The 500,000-square-foot high-rise office, designed by Kenneth Franzheim, was at one time Houston’s tallest building outside of downtown.
The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center acquired the property in 1974 for $18.5 million.
In its heyday, the building had lush landscaped grounds, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
“The building was a model for Prudential offices around the country and featured exceptional finishes including Loredo Chiaro marble from Italy, guanacaste wood from Central America and okoume wood from Africa,” according to the release by the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance.
Costly renovation:- Extensive studies conducted by real estate and architecture firms found restoring the building would cost much more than just tearing it down.
The foundation of the limestone tower was cracking and the building was plagued with asbestos and mold problems.
The last employees moved out in March 2010 and the building was officially closed on April 1, 2010.
When cleared, the space will be used for development of a new park and advanced clinical building.
“In its glory days, it was an impressive building, but it was time for it to come down,” said Sarah Watson, a spokeswoman for M.D. Anderson.