CARSON CITY — Its insides gutted, contractors last week put a huge excavator with powerful jaws to work tearing down the remaining structure of the state’s Kinkead Building east of the Capitol.
With jaws capable of generating nearly 200,000 pounds of pressure, the machine began to crush and rip apart the rebar-reinforced concrete, dropping massive pieces of debris to the ground below.
The groaning noise from the process could be heard two blocks away on the Capitol grounds.
One state worker passing by said it looked like a T-Rex was eating the 42-year-old building.
Public Works officials said the contractor Advance Installation of Sparks and Las Vegas Demolition expected to have the entire building down by Wednesday — in plenty of time for Public Works Director Gus Nuñez’s retirement. Nuñez has repeatedly said he wanted Kinkead gone by the time he left state service on Dec. 15.
The company was lowest of nine bidders at $926,307.
As the jaws ripped into the northeast corner of the office building, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Chief of Staff, Mike Willden, said, “That’s Carlos Brandenburg’s office. Mine was on the other corner.”
Willden’s office while at the Department of Health and Human Services was in Kinkead for a decade. It was he who wanted the building imploded. Public Works officials said that would’ve been much more expensive. But Willden seemed happy watching the destruction of what has been repeatedly described as the worst state building ever built.
The work to remove asbestos and strip the inside of the building of everything recyclable such as wiring began the same day the contractor was given permission to do so — Oct. 16. Over the past seven weeks, contractors removed 865 tons of “soft” material such as sheetrock, carpet and glass, 41 tons of metal and 7,740 tons of concrete. Except for the soft materials, nearly all of those materials were recycled.
All that was left on the morning of demolition were the 32 concrete and steel support piers and the concrete floors of the six-story structure.
Kinkead was built in 1975 and immediately began having problems. The windows leaked not only water during storms but air. The floors began tilting and sagging. It was finally abandoned a decade ago as unusable as pieces of the building began falling from the ceilings and stairwells.
Deputy Public Works Director Chris Chimits said if the state didn’t find the money to tear it down, it could have conceivably come down on its own in the near future because the core of the building was failing.
That funding was included in several budgets during the recession but removed because of more pressing needs at the time.