The Urban Demolition category produced a first-time winner in the shape of the USA’s Berg Corporation, chosen for the iconic Museum of The Bible project in the American capital which involved taking down the Washington Design Center and adjacent Hyphen building to create a useable space for the new museum.

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Awards judge John Woodward (centre) presents the Urban prize to Berg’s Corey Woods (left) and Chris Trendell

Berg described the project as: “An intensive and massive structural and selective demolition of an aging building surrounded by active pedestrian, vehicular, subterranean and railway traffic in the heart of one of the most congested, scrutinised and important cities in the United States. The environment surrounding the project was not only politically charged but physically daunting. A margin for error did not exist.”

No pressure there, then.

To provide the space necessary to complete the new work, Berg had to figure out a way to remove the top two floors while leaving the existing exterior walls in place and unharmed, how to remove every other subsequent floor in order to provide an open and inviting floor area with ample head room, and how to remove and excavate the existing basements while coordinating these efforts and in conjunction with the demolition operations above.

Additionally, Berg had to separate the existing WDC building from the 15,000 sq m (162,000 sq ft) Hyphen Building added in 1981, and completely demolish the newer structure.

As soon as the interior finishes and mechanical systems were removed, Berg began to reinforce the existing structure by installing shoring towers on the lower floors and creating openings along the exterior walls so that vertical I-beams and kickers could be installed to reinforce the exterior masonry wall and columns.

This support of the existing structure allowed Berg to remove the penthouse, roof and eighth and seventh floors while leaving the towering exterior walls in place.

Awards judge Dan Costello said: “A fantastic project exhibiting the full gamut of demolition experience, from Brokks to High booms, with great ingenuity toward the singular project focus of reinventing an old building.”

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