STELLA WRIGHT HOMES

 

Obtaining good results is rarely a matter of chance, as Protec President Lisa Blanchard pointed out while preparing to document the implosion of four 13-story public housing units in Newark, New Jersey the following morning.

"Obviously, structural blasters face enormous pressures because they consistently have only one chance to get everything right," said Blanchard as her team arrived at the Stella Wright Homes site. "To the same degree but in a notably lower profile, the same can be said of the work that our firm and other supporting subcontractors perform. Everyone's efforts are meticulously timed to the success of one button-push, and experience and dependability are recognized as critical factors."

The razing of 1960s-era public housing was familiar territory for NADC-members Mazzocchi Wrecking Inc. and Controlled Demolition Inc. (no relation to Controlled Demolition Group-UK), both of whom possessed considerable experience with similar projects. The scene in Newark was also familiar to Protec, whose team had documented all 37 high-rise building blasts in the city over the past twelve years.
For Mazzocchi Wrecking, the most significant facet of the Stella project was the fact that most of the crew and heavy demolition equipment had traveled straight across the Hudson River from Ground Zero in New York City, where the firm had spent the previous seven months working non-stop under the most difficult conditions imaginable. This new assignment would be rather straightforward by comparison, so long as everyone could maintain concentration on the task at hand.
Because this implosion project presented relatively few unusual challenges for the various teams, Lisa Blanchard elected to use the event to accelerate the training of her newest photographers and field representatives.

"The explosive demolition industry worldwide experienced a collective pause after September 11th," Blanchard explained, "However, this method continues to prove itself as the safest and most cost-effective way to bring down certain types of structures, and the number of demolition projects utilizing explosives have exceeded pre-9/11 levels over the past few months. I consider us fortunate that our workload has reached a point where the training of additional field representatives has become a priority."

While Blanchard and her team installed equipment and educated their trainees, Controlled Demolition and Mazzocchi Wrecking personnel, working under the guidance and supervision of company President Grace Mazzocchi, were busy putting the finishing touches on demolition preparations. The team used a combination of heavy geotextile fabric, plastic covering and sheets of plywood to protect windows and exterior facades of adjacent structures, which included several homes and an historic church. Shortly thereafter, a large contingent of local civic leaders and community volunteers filed into a nearby VIP area, thrilled-to-a-person that the buildings would soon be removed to make way for more modern, family-friendly housing units.

As the countdown reached zero, Mayor Sharpe James was all too happy to push the Newark Housing Authority's well-worn ceremonial plunger, and within seconds, a forgettable chapter of the venerable city's past gently melted into oblivion.


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