500 Days of Demolishing Parker Center

Scaffolding has been erected around Parker Center as crews get ready to methodically tear down the building. 

DTLA - After more than six decades of standing sentry in the Civic Center, the former police headquarters Parker Center is coming down.

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“Deconstruction” of the 1955 edifice started on Aug. 20, and that word is intentional. Reza Bagherzadeh, principal civil engineer and the project manager for the city Bureau of Engineering, said this is not a “demolition,” but rather a process that involves systematically taking apart the building bit by bit, on a 500-day timeline. While an implosion or a wrecking ball would be swift and a spectacle, this allows crews to deal safely with dangerous materials, and to avoid disrupting communication and power lines in surrounding Civic Center buildings.

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Once demolished, Parker Center will be replaced by a 27-story office tower for city employees. The Los Angeles Street Civic Building will be the first part of a six-phase, 15-year transformation of the Civic Center.

Construction firm Silverado is overseeing the deconstruction of Parker Center. The company is also working on the Sixth Street Viaduct replacement.

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Here are the upcoming stages of work. 

What’s Happening Now: The 500-day schedule is broken up into a series of milestones, with four preliminary steps (such as inspecting the site) already achieved, according to Bagherzadeh.

The deconstruction is budgeted at $16.7 million. Throughout the process, care is being taken to prevent debris from impacting the surrounding area. The work is twofold, Bagherzadeh said: There’s the actual razing of Parker Center, and also electrical and mechanical work. Crews will dig a trench on Los Angeles Street to move cables and other elements in and under Parker Center.

“We have to have the site all cleaned up without interrupting the city IT systems for 911, emergency operations, or [the city public access station] Channel 35,” Bagherzadeh said.

Finish date: November.

The Detox: Another reason for the extended process is the chemicals in the aged building. The sixth milestone in the plan calls for the decontamination of hazardous materials, which involves clearing asbestos, mercury, lead paint from the walls, and more, as well as removing any mold that may have built up over the decades due to dampness. An estimated 15-30 people will handle that work.

Finish date: mid-February 2019. 

The Deconstruction: Once the contaminants are removed, the actual deconstruction begins; that is the heaviest part of the project, according to Bagherzadeh. Crews will take out the walls and floors of Parker Center, using some machinery, while leaving the frame of the building intact. Only the metaphorical bones of the structure will remain, and then those too will be deconstructed, Bagherzadeh said.

“It’s a slow process because we have two buildings right next door, and we have residential buildings in the area, so we have to be careful,” he said.

This phase also involves wrapping up the transferring of the IT and communication systems. The wiring will be placed in a covered trench along Los Angeles, Temple and Judge John Aiso streets.

Finish date: June 3, 2019.

Destroy the Foundation: Although the building may no longer be visible from the street, work will continue, as crews tear out the underground elements of Parker Center. That will involve heavier machinery.

Finish date: September 2019. 

Last Steps: Bagherzadeh said that once the foundation is removed, work should be complete. However, the Bureau of Engineering is prepared for crews to be on site through December, in case there are any delays or unforeseen circumstances, as often happens in these kind of projects.

Parker Center opened in 1955 and served as the headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department until 2009. The Los Angeles Street Civic Building will go into construction shortly after Parker Center is fully demolished. It will have more than 750,000 square feet of space for city workers.

Anticipated opening: 2023.

nicholas@downtownnews.com

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2018