09 March 2007

Imploding the Q

From John Gushue's ...dot dot dot a video of the demolition of the old combined bachelor quarters at Argentia, in November 1999. Warning: the video is on autoplay, meaning that when you click the link the video will start right away.

John introduces a new website called Broadcast the Rock, a video sharing service of the type that have been springing up everywhere in the past few years.

Here's the youtube.com version:

Your humble e-scribbler worked on the project.

The Argentia Hilton was a multi-story building at the old United States naval facility that, at the time it was built, was reputedly the tallest building in the province. It housed single soldiers, sailors and airmen and some transient personnel travelling through Argentia without families. There as also a medical facility there, a barber shop and other similar offices.

The Q, as it was known, was such a large building that the most effective way to demolish it was by implosion. That's a technique that involves planting explosives at key parts of the building structure and detonating them in a planned sequence.

In this case, the company with the site clean-up contract decided to do something spectacular with what turned out to be the last implosion anywhere on the planet in 1999. They hired Prime Communications and your humble scribe started working with that company about a week or two before the implosion project.

The demolition was used a fundraiser for the local health authority. Tickets were sold with the winner getting the privilege of pushing the big red button - literally - that triggered the explosives. They hired a company to set the charges but they also rigged pyrotechnics to add to the visuals. The large red bursts are five gallon canisters of gasoline with squibs attached. They had nothing to do with the demolition, rather they created the visuals that gave the crowd reaction you can hear on part of the video.

Watch the video a couple of times and you will notice the multiple camera angles involved. The company set up a series of remotely operated cameras aimed at the building from various angles to get this edited version so you can see what happened from the various perspectives.

The event was a huge success. The amount raised ran into the thousands and the lucky button-pusher was a 12 year old boy. He was beside himself with excitement. The weather was a bit chilly on that November day but a few thousand people turned out for the show.

Various versions of the video turned up around the world on year-end highlights reels.