Hacienda Hotel

Hacienda Hotel

Controlled Demolition Incorporated's (CDI's) MAGIC OF IMPLOSION. At precisely midnight, Eastern Time on New Year’s Eve, 1996, a second Las Vegas hotel fell in less than 35 days. The 11-story, 900 room Hacienda Hotel was the fifth hotel felled by Controlled Demolition Incorporated (CDI) in the last three (3) years to make way for theme park developments by the Las Vegas Entertainment magnates. Previous structures imploded were the 24-story Dunes North Tower and 17-story Dunes South Tower for Mirage to clear the site for Steve Wynn’s new entry to the race, the 35-story Landmark Hotel went next for the Las Vegas Convention Center to create new parking for the convention complex, and, most recently, the 18-story Sands Hotel Tower fell to CDI's design on November 26th for Las Vegas Sands Incorporated Venetian Theme Park.

The new Circus Circus Enterprises Inc. development on the Hacienda site will be constructed on a South Sea island, "paradise" theme, just south of Circus, Circus', Luxor and the Excalibur properties. The new development is expected to run $800 million and construction is set to begin immediately.

Demolition of the Hacienda presented special problems for CDI due to the hotels unique construction. According to Mark Loizeaux, CDI’s President, the hotel’s 3 wings were built at 2 different times, under different building codes. The north wing was built in 1980 using concrete block laced with reinforcing rods and filled with grout. The use of pre-cast floor panels provided a structure which was stable so long as it remained static. The center tower and south wing were completed in 1989 under more stringent building code requirements which considered greater seismic loading. Loizeaux said that there was three times more reinforcing in the newer central and south towers than was found in the original, north tower. Every demising wall in the structure acted as shear walls that CDI had to cope with in order to create a progressive collapse. Loizeaux said that he was unaware of any structure of this configuration having been felled previously by explosives. He added that it was not surprising considering the relatively young age of the structure. Concern for workers led CDI to rely on extensive preparations on the ground floor alone, alternating the explosives in their delay program to give the pre-cast panels an opportunity to fail sequentially, disrupting the reinforced block shear walls at every floor to promote instability in the structure. CDI avoided work on upper floors out of concern for the problems a "soft-story" might have created under extreme wind or even unlikely seismic activity.

CDI’s experience in and the application of its’ knowledge of progressive collapse patterns in dozens of other types of construction paid off on the Hacienda project. It took 1,125 lb. of explosives and 30,600-ft of detonating cord initiating charges in 4,128 different locations to bring the three towers down in concert with a massive fireworks display put on by another Circus Circus subcontractor, Fireworks by Grucci Inc. of Long Island, New York. A 4-minute fireworks presentation preceding the implosion of the towers included pyrotechnic waterfalls off the front of the buildings, Effects synchronized to music off the roof of the buildings and a massive aerial display which lasted 4-minutes. CDI had the next 40-seconds of the show as Stacey Loizeaux, Mark’s 26-year old daughter initiated over 750 pyrotechnic devices and 110 gallons of gasoline in the building to create syncopated patterns of flashes and stripes of fire which culminated in a 150-ft diameter fireball off the roof of the central tower to ring in the New Year, exactly at midnight.

The only glitch in the otherwise flawless program and implosion was that the stairwell at the end of the south tower dropped 2-stories and listed 10 degrees to the south, not falling completely. At a news conference prior to the implosion, Loizeaux explained that crews salvaging equipment from the boiler room at that end of the structure had removed load bearing walls which had been integral in CDI’s implosion design. Pre-removal of those walls precluded CDI’s preparation of the rest of the stairwell to ensure its’ complete collapse. The decision to proceed was made with Circus Circus representatives since the open area to the south presented no hazards to an incomplete collapse. The stairwell was easily toppled by equipment in 45-minutes New Year’s Day without fanfare or delay.

The implosion and fireworks extravaganza was carried live on the Fox network through a live feed into "Sinbad’s Dynamite New Year" staged at Steve Wynn’s property at the north end of the strip. All-in-all, it was a New Year event that awed the 600,000 tourists estimated by Clark County Metro Police as being present on the Strip for the New Year’s event. Interested parties in both New York City and Las Vegas look forward to feedback on how the nationally televised Las Vegas event faired against the venerable Time Square ball-drop in New York City. Odds in the Vegas betting parlors early on the 31st leaned toward the viewing public under the age of 45 who stayed home New Year’s Eve would opt to watch CDI drop a building instead of Time Square.

A third Circus Circus subcontractor, Goldstrum Enterprises of Las Vegas, Nevada is expected to clear the implosion debris, the remaining low-rise structures and all manmade materials from the site over the next few months. The new Circus Circus development is moving quickly toward a ground breaking and construction schedule that will rival the speed of those already under way at the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard.