April 16, 2010
FEATURE | Demolition/Environmental Engineering
West Edmonton Mall job requires careful co-ordination for B&B Demolition
Working demolition at West Edmonton Mall is no easy trip but B&B Demolition Ltd. has become the go-to contractor for North America’s largest retail centre.
“A lot of the work had been done by fly-by-night contractors working out of the back of a pick-up truck,” says owner and president Bill Knight of the 47-employee firm. “We decided to take on those high-traffic areas — the jobs that require a bit more careful co-ordination — with a stable, professional presence that was part of the community.”
In mall parlance, B&B takes a retail outlet down to a “grey box.” That means stripping out store fixtures, millwork, ductwork, flooring, walls, ceilings and unneeded electrical services and plumbing fixtures.
For clients with a particular corporate image, even doors and windows may be removed.
“We’ve worked for them for them about 15 years,” says Knight. “They liked the quality of our work and gradually we became a preferred contractor. We currently perform about 65 contracts per year for the mall.”
B&B must work with minimal or no disturbance to the surrounding stores and customers.
While much of the mall has maintenance access, about 10 per cent of retail stores are reached through common areas.
Mall demolition is typically carried out at night, but B&B has received special dispensation from West Edmonton Mall to carry out operations during shopping hours.
“We install filters on the ductwork system so no dust enters the mall, then work the ceilings, walls and leave the floor to the last,” says Knight. If we need to move demolition material out of the building through common areas, it’s done by workers in clean uniforms pushing buggies that are covered and sealed. We have a foreman and safety supervisor on site at all times. No shopper is going to look at us and say: ‘here comes a bunch of demolition guys.’”
The contractor has collected a fleet of specialty equipment, including a miniature backhoe, and an electric ride-on floor stripper that can clear 1,000 square feet of floor per hour. Diesel equipment is fitted with exhaust scrubbers to ensure no fumes enter the common areas.
A typical demolition takes seven days from start to finish. The contractor’s largest job inside the mall: the demolition of a 65,000-square-foot Zellers retail outlet being converted to a Winners location.
“For this contract, we needed to remove a freight elevator shaft and escalators,” says Knight. “It was a substantial demolition that took over two months.”
More unusual mall contracts include the demolition of a concrete water slide requiring removal of 40 loads of concrete, and the dismantling of the Drop of Doom, a 120-foot-tall ride located in the mall’s amusement park.
“We had to take the roof off the building and remove it piece by piece, so it could be reassembled in Germany,” says Knight.
The company is currently beginning work on the mall’s largest renovation project in 20 years, in which more than five million square feet of common area are being redesigned. B&Bs first contract requires removal of about 75,000 square feet of floor space over three months.
“This work is being done at night,” says Knight. “We’re taking out floors, ceilings, palm trees — everything. We have hoarding along both sides of the halls, but sight lines are very important to the mall, so the hoarding has to allow customers to see retailers on the other side. At night we place poly over the openings to keep the rest of the mall clean.”
Other B&B retail clients include Dollarama, CIBC, Starbucks, Wendy’s and Tim Hortons.
“At Tim Hortons they want it done inside of 48 hours, so they can get the outlet back in operation quickly,” says Knight. “Keeping people waiting for their coffee any longer than that is un-Canadian.”
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