Sept. 9, 2008 – The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry community had been prepared for the sounds of demolition this week – but the sight proved even more impressive, as a large machine began the process of pulverizing the building in place.
“The demolition equipment outside my fourth-floor window looks like the jaws of a mechanical dinosaur biting the Dental Research Center, its neck articulating as it tears off a piece,” said Dr. Al Wilder, professor of operative dentistry at the School. “And then there’s the noise, a loud thump as concrete hits the ground, and Brauer Hall shakes. This must be the UNC version of ‘Jurassic Park’.”
Water is being sprayed on the building as demolition is taking place to minimize the dust, said Al Elsenrath, Support Services director. By 1 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 9), about 30 percent of the upper floors had been demolished, he added. No explosives are being used in the process.
After the Dental Research Center is demolished, the resulting debris will be used as in-fill, and the machine will move to the adjacent Dental Office Building for the same type of process. Both buildings are estimated to be demolished and the sites restored in November.
This work is a part of the Dental Sciences Building project. The Dental Sciences Building will, when completed in late 2011, encompass 216,000 square feet of state-of-the-art educational, research and office and administrative space.
The School of Dentistry’s research laboratory operations relocated from the Dental Research Center to Research Triangle Park in May in preparation for the decommissioning and demolition process. The RTP site will serve as a “home away from home” for the research laboratories as the new building is being constructed, said Dr. James Beck, associate dean for research.
The Dental Research Center was officially dedicated in October 1967. A one-story Dental Office Building was constructed in 1976, with two floors added in the early 1980s.