View Full Version : Asbestos removal and renovation of damaged skyscraper

September 4th, 2003, 12:43 PM
This building has several similarities to the NYC Deutsche Bank in age, contamination concerns, and damage from a external catastrophic event.


Tall task set to begin
Transformation of Bank One tower starting soon
By Sandra Baker

FORT WORTH - Three and a half years after a tornado turned the Bank One tower into a vacant blight, work is beginning to transform the high-rise into the tallest residential development in Tarrant County.

Crews are gearing up to remove the remaining asbestos from the tower's structural columns. By October, construction crews will start redeveloping the empty floors into individual residences and ground-level retail.

The building's developer says he is close to selecting final designs and materials for the building's exterior, with more details planned for release in the next couple of weeks.

"It's a huge deal, and we're anxious to get it going," said Tony Landrum, president of TLC Advisors, the building's owner and developer.

As early as this week, crews will begin draping the 35-story building at Fourth and Throckmorton streets in a heavy polyvinyl material to prevent any asbestos from escaping into the outside air.

The building suffered a direct hit from the March 28, 2000, tornado that swept through downtown and left blocks of debris-strewn streets. Much of the debris was sucked from inside the tower.

The $65 million project will convert the office tower into 270 residential units and 30,000 square feet of stores and restaurants. Landrum is leading the redevelopment in partnership with Greenfield Partners, a Cincinnati-based pension fund adviser. The project is receiving $16.9 million in public funding.

The renovation is expected to breathe new life into downtown Fort Worth. The addition of luxury residential space could help attract businesses, real estate professionals say.

For example, when Pier 1 Imports moves from 170,000 square feet of space in City Center, a few blocks east of the Bank One tower, it will be much easier to market the space for a corporate relocation knowing that residences will be available for employees.

"It's hard to put a finger on the exact impact, but it's all positive," said Todd Burnette, senior vice president of the Staubach Co.'s Fort Worth office.

Jack Huff, a principal in NAI/Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell in Fort Worth, agrees that any development that brings more people downtown will improve the city's image.

Although Huff said the redevelopment won't increase the demand for office space, "it is another option downtown that we have to offer businesses. It's good for the office and retail markets."

Bill Thornton, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, who can see the Bank One tower from his office in the nearby Fort Worth Club building, said he is more than eager to begin looking at a plastic-wrapped building, knowing that the project is part of all the development occurring downtown.

"There's always been a hope that we would do something to reclaim that building to our skyline," Thornton said. "It fits so well into the greater picture of what's going on downtown. It's really a great marketing opportunity for us as a community as we go forward."

Working from the roof, crews will place 20-foot-wide sections of the plastic down the side of the building from a swing stage, similar to those used for window-washing equipment, said John Reeves, project executive with Turner Construction Co., the general contractor handling the redevelopment.

Initially, it appears that three sides of the building -- on Taylor, Throckmorton and Fourth streets -- will be totally covered, while the side on Fifth Street will be covered in a patchwork pattern in spaces where there is no glass, he said.

"Means and methods may change as the product gets in hand," Reeves said. "These rolls weigh between 300 and 400 pounds. It's an extremely heavy material."

Asbestos is an insulation material that has been known to cause cancer. A one-eighth-inch layer of plaster on the concrete columns that make up the structure of the building contains asbestos.

Landrum said the asbestos is not a threat to the public, but any trace still remaining after most of the material was removed last year is being taken out in compliance with state and federal guidelines.

CST Environmental of Houston is conducting the removal.

The asbestos will be scraped off the columns and immediately vacuumed into containers that will be hauled to regulated landfills, Reeves said.

The asbestos work is being done in a negative pressure environment, and vacuums are equipped with fine-particle HEPA filters, he said. The air will be monitored daily.

Two crews will work simultaneously: One will start from the top floor and work down floor by floor, and the other will begin on the 23rd floor and work to ground level, Reeves said.

"The work that CST will be doing is pretty much out of sight," Reeves said. "The only thing the public will see is that the building has changed with the plastic on the outside."

It will take crews 10 days to remove asbestos from one floor and about 230 days to complete the entire job, Reeves said.

Beginning in October, on the heels of the asbestos removal, Turner's construction crews will begin core drilling on each floor. That drilling involves making holes in the concrete where utilities and ductwork will be brought to each of the residences.

A total of about 900 holes will be cut in floor slabs, Reeves said.

In about four months, Reeves said, crews will begin to remove the outside curtain wall and some of the plastic to begin installing windows.

"You will start seeing a dramatic change in the building in December," Reeves said.

Landrum said the building's renovation is on schedule and expected to be finished by January 2005.

Landrum closed on his purchase of the building in March, buying the property from an investment group headed by Fort Worth businessman Ed Bass. Bass bought the building in 2001 from Loutex, a Dallas-based real estate company.

Loutex had begun repairs on the building after the tornado but stopped when it decided that its insurance coverage would not meet repair costs. The building was under contract for a short time to Trammell Crow Co. before the Bass group bought it.

Bass planned to implode the building, but those plans changed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks raised insurance costs for the demolition.

Reeves said Turner has been working on the project for more than a year, helping Landrum make the redevelopment economically feasible, and crews are now eager to get started.

"This is the kind of work we love to do," Reeves said. "To see the transformation of a building ... making it a beautiful piece of work, that's what I've been doing for 30 years. It's going to be magnificent."



Asbestos removal from tower will require a lot of precautions
By Sandra Baker
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - Removing asbestos from the former Bank One tower downtown will be a tedious -- although engineering-enhanced -- process.

"It's pretty straightforward," says Kyle Burroughs, a consultant with HBC/Terracon, a Dallas-based engineering consulting firm overseeing the abatement. "But it is very labor-intensive."

A thin plaster that coats the building's structural columns contains asbestos. Workers will first sheath the building and work areas to create a leakproof work area to scrape and hammer the plaster off of the walls and to cart it away for a contained disposal.

The entire operation resembles a graduate project at an engineering college: It will include the creation of negative-air-pressure spaces where workers will do the actual hammering and chiseling, spools of sheathing to cover most of the tower and daily rinse showers for workers before they leave the work area. They will wear special coveralls, disposing of them at the end of the shift each day.

The former office tower, damaged in the March 2000 tornado, is being rebuilt into 270 residences and 30,000 square feet of stores, restaurants and offices.

Not only will rules regarding the removal of the asbestos be strictly followed, so, too, will the rules regarding the workers' handling of the materials, Burroughs says.

HBC/Terracon has a unit that oversees such environmental jobs as asbestos removal, and there is nothing unusual about the Bank One tower project compared with other projects the company has worked on, Burroughs says.

Because the columns will be touched during the building's conversion to a residential tower, it is best that the asbestos be removed, he says. The plaster containing the asbestos is in good condition. It is not friable, the dangerous phase where it flakes apart or disintegrates when rubbed between the fingers, releasing airborne -- and therefore breathable -- asbestos.

"The building is sitting in a position that is very conducive to remove what is there," Burroughs says.

Asbestos is a carcinogen, and several years after exposure a person can develop lung cancer or a serious lung condition called asbestosis, says Alan Morris, head of the toxic substances control division with Texas Department of Health in Austin.

By law, the Texas Department of Health must be notified of an abatement and what is being removed. The notification regarding the Bank One tower was filed Aug. 18 and is effective until Aug. 1, 2004.

That document shows that 23,000 linear feet of nonfriable pipe material, 2,000 square feet of surface material and 187,000 square feet of other regulated asbestos-containing material is being removed.

The type of material that contains the asbestos is not uncommon for a high-rise structure such as the Bank One tower, and the material was probably used during the building's construction in 1974, Burroughs says.

The asbestos was mixed into the material to help paint adhere to the concrete columns, so removing it does not hurt the building's structure, Burroughs says.

Because the job is large and other construction will be going on, coordinating the parallel projects has been difficult, Burroughs says.

On average, there will be 10 to 12 licensed and registered workers working at any time on each floor, but that number may rise to 30 depending on the work being done, he says.

CST Environmental of Houston is doing the removal. Its workers are already getting equipment in place around and inside the building. The removal should begin in about a week, Burroughs says.

The tower's $65 million renovation is the effort of TLC Realty Advisors in Fort Worth and Greenfield Partners, a Cincinnati-based fund adviser. The project got $16.9 million in funding from the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

TLC Realty bought the building in March from an investment group headed by Fort Worth businessman Ed Bass. Bass had bought the damaged building in 2001 from Dallas-based Loutex. At one time, plans were to implode the building and use the land for parking. But discovery of the asbestos and the costs of a demolition rendered that plan infeasible.

The building's renovation is expected to be finished by January 2005.

The glass panes on the 35-story building at Fourth and Throckmorton streets will be covered in a heavy polyvinyl material to prevent any asbestos from escaping into the outside air.

What goes on inside the building is just as thorough, Burroughs says.

Eighty-four columns on each floor have the asbestos-containing plaster on them. When a crew is on a floor working, that floor is also draped in plastic. There also will be decontamination areas for employees.

Workers will be using air-pressure needle guns, which are about the size of a tennis ball can. Each has a piston system that shoots needles in and out to loosen the material on the columns. An attached vacuum sucks the material away.

The material will be kept wet during the process, preventing it from becoming dry or brittle and then airborne, Burroughs says.

Workers will also use wire brushes and elbow grease to scrape away any remaining material.

All the work is being done in a negative pressure environment, which means that the containment area will be airtight. Air is drawn in and then filtered and recirculated. The filters collect 99.97 percent of all airborne particles, whether asbestos, dust or other material, Burroughs says.

Air is monitored inside the containment area, the rest of the building and outside.

"We're going through some very stringent measurements to make there is no health threat to the public," Burroughs says.

Field inspectors from the state will monitor the abatement.

"We want them to be involved," Burroughs says. "It adds to the comfort level."

The material is placed in 55-gallon drums and later in several special plastic containers before it is locked in trash carts and hauled off to a landfill in Lewisville, Burroughs says.

Workers will be wearing disposable Tyvek clothing and respiratory protection.

Workers are required to go through a three-chamber decontamination process every time they enter or leave an area where asbestos is being removed, Burroughs says.

When they arrive at work, they'll remove their clothing and don the Tyvek suits in a clean environment. When they leave, they take showers and wash their hair, while still wearing the respiratory equipment, before they are allowed to put their street clothes back on.

"Decontamination is not [ optional]," Burroughs says. "Most of them have a lot of experience doing this."

The abatement will take about 230 days to complete.