Out with the Old, In with the New: Structural Demolition at Hawaii’s Ala Moana

By: Dana Directo

Construction is definitely making a comeback in Hawaii.

One of the many notable projects is the Ewa Expansion at the Ala Moana shopping center in Honolulu, Hawaii (on the island of Oahu).

Ala Moana Center is the largest open-air shopping center in the world and one of the most popular shopping and social-gathering destinations in Honolulu. To meet growing demand, General Growth Properties, Inc., Ala Moana’s owner/manager, determined it was time for a face-lift.

The renovation will include an upgraded food court, customer amenities, pedestrian access from Ala Moana Boulevard and the addition of more than 1,000 parking spaces in the Mauka Ewa parking structure.

ala moana

However, before any of that work could begin, a significant portion of “old” structure needed to be removed.

Working with a long-time contracting partner, Penhall (dba Concrete Coring Company of Hawaii) was brought on to handle the structural demolition of the existing 160,000 square foot parking deck and a three-story building (formerly the Sears Building) that was connected to the mall.

That alone made the project an awesome undertaking, but when the Penhall team learned of the additional complexities associated with the job, things got even more interesting…

  • The Sears Building- a portion of the building was holding up the rest of the mall, so the Sears building had to be removed without weakening the support of the existing mall. Executing this required significant engineering capabilities. The team also had to carefully install shoring before the building could be taken down.
  • Sectional demolition – Usually, demolition starts at one end of a structure and goes to the other. Because of the unique logistics of the project, to stay on schedule, the team had to go around the building and take it down in sections—taking out the back end before taking out the front end.
  • Restrooms – there were two restrooms right at the very edge of the building wreck that had to remain open –and safe – during the demolition process. (Imagine having to use the facilities right next to a 40,000 lb machine on the other side of the wall …)
  • Christmas Season – all of the structural demolition had to take place during the Christmas shopping season, so the mall had to remain open the entire time.

When it was all said and done, 3,000 truckloads of cement, mixed waste, steel, and other materials were removed from the site.  Not only was the Penhall team able to get their end of the project completed on time, but they were able to do it safely, with minimal interruption to the Ala Moan shoppers and employees.

Now that the majority of the demolition has been completed, the Ewa Expansion has been able to progress and is gaining momentum toward its completion in 2015.

ala moana 2

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