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Full Demo for NOLA Hard Rock Planned

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

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Although the bodies of two deceased workers remain in the rubble of the partially collapsed New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel, Mayor LaToya Cantrell reported that the city is preparing for a full demolition of the structure.

“The building is so unstable that no engineer would sign off on even partial demolition,” Cantrell said last Tuesday (Nov. 5).

Hard Rock Collapse Saga

Around 9 a.m. on Oct. 12, part of the Hard Rock Hotel building gave way, resulting in the collapse of the structure’s upper floors on the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets. The incident resulted in the death of three construction workers and injuries to 30 other individuals.

In the safety efforts that followed, 10 surrounding buildings were evacuated as electricity and gas to the buildings and condominiums were turned off, while damage to the roof of the neighboring historic Saenger Theater caused the cancellation of many scheduled performances.

According to New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell, a crane weighing several tons that was attached to the Hard Rock was also damaged and unstable. Other officials added that it appeared initial damages were caused by the collapse of floors six through eight, which resulted in additional damage spread throughout a large portion of the building.

Due to these various factors and hazardous conditions, search teams were only able to recover one of the bodies of the deceased.

Metairie, Louisiana-based Citadel Builders was identified as the general contractor on the Hard Rock construction project, which was slated to be an 18-story, 350-room hotel near the city’s French Quarter. The hotel was expected to open in 2020.

Eight days following the hotel’s partial collapse, an evacuation order was put into effect as two cranes were imploded on the construction site. A decision that made the overall site safer than its collapse on Oct. 12, according to reports.

As a result of the controlled demolition, one crane was reported to have impaled and damaged a sewer line on Rampart Street—which was expected, according to the city—and broke three windows at the Saenger Theater and others at the historic Roosevelt Hotel.


Last week, multiple lawsuits were reported to have been filed in civil court against the project’s construction leaders and other involved parties.

According to reports, at least 12 lawsuits were filed for damages against Citadel Builders and other defendants including 1031 Canal Development LLC, developer Kailas Companies, Harry Baker Smith Architects, Heaslip Engineering and All Star Electric.

Although the lawsuits vary, the collection of allegations points to possible causes and potential contributions of the collapse, including negligence, design failure, inadequate structural supports, incorrect pile load tests, inaccurate concrete cure times and the use of unskilled workers.

Allegations received from all parties are reported to mimic complaints made by several construction workers prior to the hotel’s collapse. Additionally, reported video footage reveals concerns about the structure’s shoring ability to support the weight from the concrete slabs, as shore posts appeared to be bent while supporting a concrete tier on an unfinished upper floor.

What’s Happening Now

Although no official plans or timetable for the intended demolition has been released, McConnell plans to review and approve an engineered demolition plan in the near future—which might include the use of controlled explosives.

Once the structure has been completely demolished, crews intend to locate and recover the remains of the two deceased workers.

"We have had the blessing from families of getting what we can but also understanding that once the building is demolished remains will be there but we will move quickly into recovery of those remains and there are other things family members are requesting things like for example maybe a wallet that was on one of our people,” Cantrell said.

Thus far, post-collapse recovery and repair costs are reported to have reached more that $6 million with $2.4 million going to public safety, police and payroll; $1.2 million to street repairs; $850,000 to the Regional Transit Authority for infrastructure damages; $847,500 for theatre repairs and lost revenue; and $700,000 for debris removal, equipment and other miscellaneous costs.

The New Orleans Advocate also reports that the building’s owners and their insurers have paid $5 million for the failed crane demolitions that took place last month.

Regarding these expenses, the city has announced that it plans to pass these costs off to the entity found responsible for the collapse. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation has been launched since the tragedy and has opened various inspection cases.

In pinpointing who is responsible for the incident, OSHA will be looking at the:

  • Creating employer - the employer that created the hazard;
  • Exposing employer - the employer whose employees were exposed to the hazard;
  • Correcting employer - the employer on the same site as the exposing employer and is responsible for correcting hazards; and
  • Controlling employer - the employer that has general supervisory authority on the project and that has the power to either correct hazards or instruct others to do so.

"What we do know is that after the demolition occurs part of the process is recovery," Cantrell added. "I have a commitment from the ownership that they will ... go above and beyond to deliver for our people. That's what I'm expecting and absolutely requiring."


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Buildings; Commercial Construction; Commercial contractors; Construction; Demolition; Engineers; Fatalities; Hotels; Lawsuits; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; OSHA; PaintSquare App - Commercial

Comment from john lienert, (11/12/2019, 5:02 AM)

"someone" had to graduate at the bottom of the class on structural support....

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (11/15/2019, 11:16 AM)

If I heard correctly, the design being used for the NOLA Hard Rock was one utilized successfully elsewhere. If that is indeed the case, then I'd suggest the collapse points more toward something in the location (i.e. a foundation issue....though you'd expect a different type of collapse) or a construction issue, rather than the design. The initial reports about shoring, supports and curing times, if verified, point to some unfortunate potential shortcuts. I'll wait for the investigation to be completed and a report to be released, but I have my suspicions.

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