Sky Talk

American Airlines to implode old headquarters buildings on Friday

With 100 pounds of dynamite and 300 pounds of shaped charges, a former American Airlines headquarters complex will come down in about 30 seconds.

The Fort Worth-based carrier plans to implode its former headquarters, located on the west wide of Texas 360 at 13951 Trinity Blvd., at 1 p.m. today as it prepares the 97-acre site for a new corporate campus.

Six buildings totaling 331,000 square feet have been prepared for implosion by Dallas Demolition.

American first used the buildings as its headquarters in 1983 and then moved across Texas 360 into its existing headquarters complex on Amon Carter Boulevard in 1990. Its Sabre division was housed in the old facility until it was spun off and moved to Southlake.

The buildings were subleased and have been vacant since 2009.

“The buildings now are all stripped out,” said Dallas Demolition President Anthony Lohden. “We need to get enough movement and get it to fall ... Once it gets moving, it falls apart and comes down kind of like Lincoln Logs or Jenga.”

Lohden said it took about two-and-a-half months to prepare the buildings for the implosion.

First, the company had to remove hazardous materials, such as asbestos or refrigerants, and then all of the non-load bearing walls, including drywall and wood partitions. The six buildings range from three to five stories and are connected by skywalks that are also being demolished.

Once the hazardous materials were removed, Dallas Demolition crews cut beams and walls to weaken the structure. The final step is strategically placing the shaped charges and dynamite in the structure — the explosives used to cause the implosion.

Lohden said his crews have also taken measures to protect numerous trees and a creek on the site. It has also protected an old cafeteria building, which will remain standing. American plans to use it for electrical connections and utilities needed during construction.

“One of the main reasons we’re imploding this building is because of the elevation of the project,” Lohden said, noting that the site has a 40-foot difference in elevation. “It makes it really difficult for a crane or track equipment to get in there, so the best method possible was an implosion, for safety and for time.”

American has invited employees to a watch party on the top floor of its parking garage on Amon Carter Boulevard. It is also holding a drawing that day; two employees will help Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker flip the switch that triggers the implosion.

The company is asking employees to donate $10 to enter the drawing. Donations will benefit the American Airlines Family Fund.

The carrier expects to break ground on its new corporate campus this summer, with completion expected by fall 2018. The new headquarters will be just south of its new operations center, which opened last year.

“Moving across the street will bring everyone closer together — literally and figuratively,” the company said in a note sent to employees earlier this week.

“With the new space, team members will be much better connected and the management staff will be better able to support the frontline employees who take such good care of our customers every day.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk