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Implosion marks new chapter for Vanderbilt campus

Jul. 28, 2019, 5:47 PM

It took less than a dozen seconds for Vanderbilt University’s 14-story Carmichael West Tower 3 on West End Avenue to fall Saturday morning, clearing the way for three new residential colleges.

The Carmichael Towers served the university well over the years, but the residential colleges that will be built in their place will further prepare our students to go into a diverse world as engaged citizens and leaders.

“The Carmichael Towers served the university well over the years, but the residential colleges that will be built in their place will further prepare our students to go into a diverse world as engaged citizens and leaders,” said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “As we transform the Nashville skyline, we are also following through on our mission to educate the whole person.”

Thousands viewed the university’s livestream of the event to watch the historic moment, which marked a significant—and dramatic—shift in the effort to transform traditional residence halls into state-of-the-art residential colleges designed to immerse students in a holistic approach to education and ultimately advance Vanderbilt’s mission: to create engaged citizens who can change the world for the better.

The implosion, overseen by Layton Construction, LLC, which is conducting the ongoing construction in the West End Neighborhood, and Controlled Demolition, Inc., a national leader in large-structure controlled demolition, required over 180 man hours to set up and more than 400 pounds of explosives.

“Today is a significant moment in our pursuit of the vision laid out in Vanderbilt’s Academic Strategic Plan,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente. “The demolition of Carmichael Towers symbolizes our move away from dormitory-style buildings to the true living-learning communities. The new residential colleges will be welcoming to all and incorporate accessible design, sustainable features, green space and classic architecture.”

For weeks, alumni engaged with the university on social media to share their experiences of the towers, which ranged from nostalgic to comical. Limited-edition implosion merchandise was created to commemorate the moment, with all proceeds directly benefiting the new residential colleges. Implosion merchandise can be purchased at vu.edu/towers through July 31.

The demolition of Carmichael Towers symbolizes our move away from dormitory-style buildings to the true living-learning communities. The new residential colleges will be welcoming to all and incorporate accessible design, sustainable features, green space and classic architecture.

In line with its recent sustainability goal, the university took great care to salvage as much material from the towers as possible prior to their demolition. Furniture from the former student rooms as well as the lobbies will be reused elsewhere on campus. Significant amounts of mechanical and electrical equipment and other hardware were removed from the buildings and will be recycled in new construction. In addition, the new residential colleges will be built to high sustainability standards, each designed to achieve LEED gold status, an important component in ensuring they are energy efficient and built to last for generations.

The adjacent Carmichael West Tower 4 will be taken down later this summer through mechanical demolition.

The new residential colleges, which will be complete by the university’s 150th anniversary in 2023, will build upon the successful programming already in place at The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, Warren and Moore Colleges and, most recently, E. Bronson Ingram College. Residential colleges have been a key pillar of the Academic Strategic Plan since its inception more than five years ago and support the university’s core values of diversity and inclusion, discovery, respectful discourse, accessibility and sustainability.

To learn more about Carmichael Towers’ rich history through photos and video, and to watch an archive of the implosion livestream, visit vu.edu/towers..

-VU-

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