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Old Space Camp Dorm at Kennedy Center Demolished

Tue June 14, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Many aspiring astronauts have spent time at Space Camp Florida at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Titusville, Fla. Those who attended the camp during the late 80s through 2002 remember staying in a uniquely shaped dormitory with separate quarters for males and females. That unique dormitory, modeled after Habitat 1, is now a memory since its demolition by Melbourne, Fla.-based Frank-Lin Excavating Inc.

Frank-Lin Excavating finished demolition of the 52,000-sq.-ft. (4,680 sq m), four-story, metal and concrete structure in January and completed final site work and final grading for sod in February.

According to Pete Charamut, president of Frank-Lin Excavating, the building was “shaped like a space station inside and out and was used for week-long teaching and education programs for aspiring astronauts.”

The dorm held roughly 276 attendees who were taught robotics and were able to use simulators among other things.

Since its closing in 2002, the building fell into a state of disrepair. It suffered serious damage to its roof during the 2005 hurricane season.

Charamut added, “The cost to rehab the structure and remove the mold was not cost effective, so demolition was scheduled.”

Frank-Lin Excavating was contracted to perform the demolition work by Ivey’s Construction Inc., Merritt Island, Fla., which is the prime contractor on a larger contract for work occurring at KSC. Although the project was located outside of NASA’s gate, said Charamut, the work was supervised by NASA safety and environmental departments.

Equipment on hand to help with demolition and removal of debris consisted of Caterpillar excavators, including a Cat 330CL with thumb attachment, a Cat 321CL with thumb attachment, and a Cat 330CL with a Genesis LXP 300 3rd member shear. There also was a Kobleco 330 excavator with thumb attachment, a Cat 928 loader and grapple, a Bobcat 300 skid steer, and a Volvo A25 articulated truck with a drop-in 4500-gal. (17,100 L) water tank used for dust control. Additionally, a Finlay Hydratrak scalping screen was on site as well as a fleet of trailer dumps and tri- axle dump trucks.

On all of his contracts, Charamut self-imposes high standards and an 85 to 90 percent goal for recycling; this one is no different.

“Our impact to the local landfill was minimized due to the use of our portable screen which removed concrete, small metal and dirt from the C&D debris,” he elaborated.

Based on the size of the building, according to Charamut, “we calculated a 90 percent recycling effort.” The recycling included 580,000 lbs. (261,000 kg) of steel and tin, 7,000 lbs. (3,150 kg) of copper pipe and 3.2 Million lbs. (1.4 Million kg) of concrete.

The layout of the project site presented some challenges for Frank-Lin Excavating. Being in the demolition industry, they have encountered similar complications before. The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, located adjacent to the dorm building, remained open during demolition, so that created a challenge for demolition crews.

Charamut confirmed, “The building is within 50 feet of the dorm and was open for business during our entire demolition project.”

Furthermore, workers had to be cautious due to an active 8-in. (20 cm) water main under a sidewalk that was located within 10 ft. (3 m) from the west boundary of the building.

“We were able to complete the demolition and grading without any damage to either target,” explained Charamut.

The fact that the sidewalk remained intact was a pleasant surprise to the general contractor since the bid for the job factored in the removal and replacement of the sidewalk.

The assumption was, according to Charamut, “the demolition work would take out the sidewalk since steel and concrete would be falling so close to [it].” He added, “Using the right equipment for the job solved that problem and saved some cost.” He also attributes success to his highly-skilled equipment operators.

At this time, the site is destined to remain green space until Delaware North Companies (DNC) Parks & Resorts Inc., KSC’s management company, decides what to do with it. DNC has operated and managed the KSC Visitor Complex since 1995. The entire KSC Complex has about 1.5 million visitors annually. CEG

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