Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Watch the Bradley Center Roof Drop

"Shaped charges" cause massive roof to implode, drop into stadium.

By - Jan 13th, 2019 10:08 am
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BMO Harris Bradley Center Demolition. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

BMO Harris Bradley Center Demolition. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Fortress on Fourth has been ransacked, at least that’s how it now looks.

The BMO Harris Bradley Center officially has no roof after a series of shaped charges detonated at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday morning.

The resulting impact didn’t cause the building to implode, but did trigger the roof to drop in the structure. A large cloud of dust, nearly as high as the 30-story The Moderne tower quickly formed.

The intent is to create a safer work environment for those disassembling the roof and trusses according to Mike Abrams of CAA Icon, which is representing the Milwaukee Bucks on the project. The roof is now sitting on the upper seating bowl, eliminating the need to cut steel while dangling 100 feet above the ground.

The owners representative came before the Common Council’s Public Works Committee two weeks ago to secure approval to close a portion of W. State St. and N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. for the detonation. The Milwaukee Fire Department and other safety personnel were on hand Sunday morning to close the streets and sound horns in advance of the detonation.

Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction is supervising the work for the Milwaukee Bucks, while Veit & Co., a Minnesota-based firm, is performing the demolition work. Veit has been busy in downtown Milwaukee in recent years, smashing everything from the Downtown Transit Center to the BMO Harris Parking Garage.

The end goal is for 90 percent of the structure, including everything from bathroom partitions to the massive scoreboard, to be recycled or reused.

First came the reuse. Habitat for Humanity’s salvage crew guided the removal of luxury box seats, team lockers and other fixtures and sold them for affordable prices at its three area ReStore shops (one of the visiting NBA lockers can be now be found in our sister business, Urban Milwaukee: The Store). A team from Milwaukee Public Schools also was able to salvage a number of institutional items ranging from bathroom partitions and sinks to drinking fountains and door hardware.

Then comes the recycling. The remaining seats, thousands upon thousands of them, were sent to a local recycling firm to be dismantled and recycled. The granite facade will be acquired by utility contractor Michels Corp. Using equipment at the site of its future River One development, the company will grind up the large pieces and use the resulting gravel in projects within ten miles of Milwaukee.

Work is scheduled to be completed this summer. The building opened in 1988.

What comes once the 7.2-acre site is completely cleared? That remains to be seen. The Bucks’ real estate affiliate, which acquired the arena and associated land as part of the Fiserv Forum funding package, has yet to release specific plans for the site. With a full-fledged push for the 2020 Democratic National Convention underway and major construction projects often taking over two years, it’s more likely the site will be used as a staging ares for politicians, reporters and delegates than a new building in 2020. But long term, the Bucks ownership and the city would both like to see the site developed.

Urban Milwaukee recorded the event from the Milwaukee School of Engineering‘s Grohmann Tower. Students were joined by a number of MSOE alumni who work for Hunzinger.

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