The Maths Tower Demolition Project at Manchester University
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Demolition of The Maths Tower – Manchester University

Connell Brothers have currently completed a contract to demolish the Maths Tower at The University of Manchester. The building is believed to be the largest to have been demolished in the city and is the latest in an impressive portfolio of City Centre Landmark demolition contracts completed by the company.

The unsightly design of the Maths Tower situated on Oxford Road in the City Centre is said to be based on that of a scale ruler. The building was earmarked for redevelopment following the merger last October of the University of Manchester and UMIST to form a single University.

The Building stands at 21 storeys and is situated within the confines of the live University Campus which is recognised as the biggest institution in the country and the largest in Europe with over 33,500 students. Coupled with this is the fact the Tower Fronts onto one of the busiest roads in the City Centre.

Due to the highly sensitive location of the project stringent measure have had to be implemented to control noise, dust and vibration. The Tower is surrounded by occupied lecture theatres, libraries and auditoriums thus it is imperative that the work is carried out causing the minimum of fuss and disturbance to those studying inside as well as the general public and traffic on Oxford Road.

Careful planning and Liaison are also playing a crucial role in the smooth running of the contract. Working closely with the University, City Council, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive is essential. Regular safety and progress meetings are held with numerous departments within the University to alleviate any concerns that they may have as the works proceed.

The irregular profile of the building meant the erection of the scaffolding was a challenge in itself. Once the building was fully scaffold Monarflex sheeting was fitted to fully enclose the structure and thus minimise the effect of dust. Once the soft strip had been completed and the Asbestos Removal Team had removed all asbestos the main demolition was commenced.

Using a mobile crane 3 – tonne mini diggers were lifted to the top floor of the Tower in preparation for deconstruction floor by floor. The excavators are equipped with hydraulic shears and breaker attachments. The are working progressively from the roof down crunching the concrete, and cutting the rebar which is dozed down the decommissioned lift shafts at regular intervals. Once at ground level the material will be taken away for further processing and recycling. The concert will be crushed into aggregates which will then be used on the new development.

Once the Tower has been reduced to a suitable height from ground level it will then be attacked by a Specialist High Reach Excavator with pulverisor attachments which will the bring the remainder down to ground level.

A further complication to the project was the removal of a concrete ramp that joined the Maths Tower to the neighbouring Kilburn Computer building which proved to be a delicate task. Connell Brothers had to construct a scaffold to access the ramp to detach it by hand from the Kilburn building without causing any damage to the remaining structure. Only once the team had worked the ramp back around 3 metres from the building was it possible to advance with main mechanical demolition.

As the nerve centre for much of the University’s computer power, The Kilburn Building offers another test to Connell Brothers. The ground surrounding the tower is dense with telephone and fibre optic cables as well as gas main, electric line and other services. Due to the nature of the plant involved with the project it was vital that a full audit was carried out to relocate service ducts that could otherwise have been damaged potential knocking out computers and other supplies across the campus.

The vast experience of city centre projects carried out by Connell Brothers is paying dividends. The site supervisor in charge of the site Mr Denis Cole said, “Each time we do one of these jobs, we learn a little bit more. Our last contract in the city was the Eagle Star Building. It had the Metrolink Tram Line running alongside it, so we had to work around that. Most of the operatives on site are long – term employees so they have worked together on many projects and have learned valuable lessons on the way”.

Other Manchester City Centre Projects
Following the IRA bomb of 1996 Connell Brothers brought down the Marks and Spencer’s store that bore the brunt of the blast earning the company the prestigious “Demolition Contractor of the Year Award. Since then it has also knocked down the iconic Hacienda night-club, Bernard House (an 8 storey shopping complex), The Eagle Star Insurance Building, and Maine Road The former home Manchester City Football Club completed last year.

For further information, please contact Steve Balyski on 0161 925 0606 or steve.b@connellbrothers.co.uk