| Contractor’s Leap of Faith in Demolition Machines Proves Providencial on Bible Museum Project

When it comes to handling high-profile projects, Baltimore-based demolition contracting firm, The Berg Corporation, wrote the book. In this case, its task centered around one of the biggest, most widely-read books of all time as it prepared to clear a path for the much-publicized Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

The Museum of the Bible is an $800 million endeavor funded primarily by Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby. Scheduled to open to the public in fall 2017, the museum will sit approximately two blocks from the National Mall. The old train loading dock on 4th Street Southwest will serve as the museum’s main entrance, flanked with tall bronze panels and a 40-ft.-high stained glass piece. Inside, visitors will enjoy a rooftop ballroom and auditorium, dine on Biblical-themed meals in an on-site restaurant, or walk through a child-focused Noah’s Ark experience filled with videos and holograms. The floors will display one of the world’s largest collections of Torah scrolls and fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Bibles of the distant and recent past will also be on display, from a portion of the Gutenberg Bible, to Bibles used by Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley.

Following months of study and collaboration between Berg Corporation and Clark Construction, the project to turn a 1920s refrigeration warehouse and neighboring buildings into a 430,000-sq.-ft. display case for Green’s trove of nearly 44,000 Biblical pieces was started. Clark managed the pre-construction contingent and Terence Anderson, vice president of estimating for Berg Corporation, helped take it from there.

Making Light Work of Selective Demolition

The team’s mission included taking out every other floor of the Washington Design Center, adding 5 ft. of additional depth to the basement and removing the roof, plus demolishing the 1982, 50,000-sq.-ft. Hyphen Building, sandwiched between the Washington Design Center and the Washington Office Center. The Washington Office Center also demanded extensive structural work on the underground parking area and foundation walls.

The way Berg’s management team saw it, there were two ways to tackle the project. They could use skid-steer loaders with hammer attachments along with operators on handheld jackhammers and rivet busters, or they could bring in lightweight, remote-controlled demolition equipment to do the heavy hitting, as well as a small skid-steer loaders to quickly remove the debris.

The first option carried the risk of exposing employees to ongoing fall hazards and poor air quality, and exaggerated labor costs. The use of remote-controlled demolition equipment would greatly reduce the risks to employees, dramatically decrease labor costs and bring the schedule into line with the opening of the museum.

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