Bringing Down The House
The tools of destruction range from standard dynamite, used to shatter concrete, to linear shaped charges that concentrate the force of a high explosive called RDX, slicing through steel with millions of pounds of pressure per square inch. In a 2001 project, for example, it took a mere 80 pounds of shaped charges to bring down each of two New York gas storage tanks built with 5 million pounds of steel.
Building implosions have become a popular spectator sport; millions have gathered to witness these stunning and beautiful tableaux of destruction. The showbiz side of their profession has enhanced the family's fame. Their blasts have been featured in major Hollywood movies including Atlantic City, Lethal Weapon 3, Demolition Man, and Enemy of the State. In 1993, their implosion of the 22-story north tower of the Dunes hotel for Las Vegas resort mogul Steve Wynn drew 250,000 spectators.
There is a more somber side to CDI's work. In 1995, the company was asked to demolish the remains of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Building, blown up by Timothy McVeigh. The Murrah building was a prelude to the greater disaster of Sept. 11, 2001. Like most Americans, the Loizeauxs were transfixed by the televised scenes of destruction shortly after the first jet struck. But as experts in buildings' vulnerabilities, they knew right away what few Americans realized. "I told Doug immediately that the tower was coming down, and when the second tower was hit, that it would follow," remembers Mark.
Horrified, the Loizeaux brothers watched first responders streaming into the doomed towers and tried frantically, and unsuccessfully, to phone in warnings. In the following days, CDI was called to ground zero to consult on safety and develop plans for demolition and debris removal. What if the twin towers, though badly damaged, had somehow remained standing? Without doubt, the Loizeaux family would have been called upon to bring them down. "Quite simply," says Mark in a rare moment of introspective uncertainty, "I don't know how we would have done it."