Video: Amazing time-lapse record of St. Anthony Hospital demolition

This week's cover story, "High-Rise Anxiety," looks into the uproar over redevelopment of the old St. Anthony Hospital site -- which is being welcomed by some residents as a long-awaited economic revival of the West Colfax business district, while others are concerned about the impact of the project on the Sloan's Lake neighborhood. But whatever side of the issue you're on, there's no denying that taking down the 130-year-old hospital complex -- nearly a million square feet of various structures, from various eras -- was one hell of a demolition job.

A recent article in the trade journal Construction & Demolition Recycling gives some idea of the challenges faced by the developer, EnviroFinance Group, as well as the site's demolition firm, Fiore & Sons, and abatement contractor, Hudspeth & Associates -- everything from ancient asbestos to tunnels that weren't on any plans to dust control.

EFG made a commitment to recycle many of the materials found on the site, thereby saving thousands of truckloads of rubble that would otherwise be dispatched to landfills. Fiore ended up pulverizing an estimated 30,500 tons of concrete onsite -- available as fill and infrastructure for the coming construction of apartments, retail and offices -- as well as salvaging tons of metal, asphalt, and stone now piled on the leveled site.

A camera mounted on a rooftop just off-site also took some revealing time-lapse video over a period of months, documenting the steady progress of trackhoe excavators as they nibbled away at the hospital wings like insects devouring a foe. A short version of the demo, which shows a great deal of hosing down the site for dust suppression, can be found on the development website; but the five-minute version below has its advantages, including some well-lit nighttime scenes.

The project actually required a dozen phases of abatement and demolition because of the many layers of add-on construction as the hospital evolved over the years. But armchair demo junkies can now track months of labor in a few minutes. Check it out.

St. Anthony's Demolition 1_10_2014 from Conrad Olivier on Vimeo.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa July 2013: "Photos: Five demolished Colorado urban exploration sites."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast