Texas Contractor Revitalizes Historic Fort Worth Landmark

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Fort Worth, Texas is One Montgomery Plaza. When it was built in 1928, the eight-floor, Mission-Revival style building served as a regional retail and mail order warehouse for Montgomery Ward. The building originally allowed for trains to come in between its two towers to be unloaded and was the largest building in Texas. It was quickly recognized as an architectural icon.

Montgomery Ward’s building was constructed in a bygone era with large, sweeping windows, 12-inch thick concrete walls and a certain majesty that’s hard, if not impossible, to capture today. The construction featured reinforced concrete with 20-foot centered columns throughout. In some areas, two- to three-story wing additions were built, each designed to have five more floors added at a future date. The structure was built to last, surviving the Fort Worth flood in 1949 that reached its second floor and the Fort Worth tornado in 2000. Montgomery Ward rolled up their operations in 2001, and in 2004, the building was sold and eventually converted into luxury condos and retail space, where the building’s original art deco style was preserved. On the 3rd floor roof of One Montgomery Plaza is a 66-foot pool and adjoining spa. In 2018, the waterproofing membrane between the structural slab and the topping slab failed. Water damage caused a 20 percent failure in the structural steel below the slab and in the planter anchors. General Contractor (GC) J. Reynolds, Inc. was hired to remove the topping slab and waterproofing, repair the damaged steel and concrete structures, install new waterproofing and a new topping slab and restore the pool and terrace. J. Reynolds hired CSDA member Magnum Sawing and Coring of Irving, Texas to saw cut and remove the topping slab and demo the spa area next to the pool down to its steel structure. Magnum faced four significant limitations on this job: weather, tenants, power and weight. The weather in January and February in Fort Worth can be unpleasant and unpredictable, and this year was no exception. Magnum battled ice and freezing rain and had seven weather- related shutdowns during the 39-day job. The condos and retail space were occupied, and the owners wanted to limit as much as possible any inconvenience to the tenants. Magnum only had access to one stairwell to get tools and personnel to the 3rd floor. This necessitated the use of a crane to hoist heavy equipment to the roof and remove the pieces of concrete and debris. The GC hired a shoring contractor to build a platform so debris could be removed from the jobsite to street level. Another issue was there wasn’t enough onsite power to run Magnum’s equipment, so Magnum brought their own 6500 watt portable generators to power their multiple saws, core drills, jackhammers and custom built Wet Vacs. Since they were working on a roof, there was a strict weight limit. The typical heavy equipment couldn’t be used. A Bobcat S-70 loader was light enough to place on the roof and for the crane to hoist it up and down. After drilling twelve 7” diameter test cores with Diamond Products Weka DK 22 Core Bores, Magnum determined that sawing was the best way to remove the slab.

Saw cutting would create less debris, dust and vibration. They also had to consider the 100-year-old structures below the slab, which ruled out the excessive vibrations that robotic hammering would create. The first step was to hand demo the spa. Stihl 16” gas hand saws, Bosch Turbo Brute electric jackhammers and wheelbarrows were used to break up the concrete into pieces and move it off the roof. In some areas around the spa, the concrete was overpoured to 36” thick. The next step was saw cutting the topping slab into sections. The slab was cut with a walk-behind Diamond Products Core Cut 60 hp diesel concrete saw with Husqvarna F297C slab saw blades. Four men hauled pieces in two-wheel dollies and a Bobcat S-70 Skid Steer to a loading platform. There, the pieces were placed in a loading hopper on a high reach SkyTrak 55-foot shooting boom lift. The slab pieces and debris were stockpiled in the laydown yard and later hauled off for recycling. Next on the hit list were two 12-inch thick structural stairs leading to the pool.

These also had to be demoed with hand saws and jackhammers. Finally, a 40’ x 4’ ramp had to be demolished, but the walls on each side of the ramp could not be damaged. Magnum made a few longitudinal cuts with the Core Cut slab saw, hand sawed the crosscuts, then jackhammered the ramp slab. Obviously, working with heavy equipment on an open third floor roof poses its hazards. To ensure safety, Magnum had a supervisor on the job full time and a watchman on the platform whenever the rail was removed. Safety meetings were held with the GC weekly. Meetings with the crew were held regularly to prevent back and hand injuries, discuss eye and hearing protection, and to remind them about the importance of good housekeeping on the jobsite. Surprise safety inspections also occurred to keep everyone on their toes. Only certified employees operated the Skid Steer and the SkyTrak. When the job was finished after 39 days on site, Magnum had drilled twelve 7-inch diameter test cores, slab sawed and removed (by hand) 13,250 square feet of 6-7” concrete topping slab with reinforcing steel bars and cut 22,750 linear feet of 6-7” slabs. Magnum finished the job early, even with seven days of delays due to bad weather. Danny Spencer at Magnum remarked, “The Magnum crew worked as a team to get a big job done fast.

Having a great client to work for with qualified supervision and project management was a big plus. We were selected for the job because we worked with J. Reynolds before and they knew we could get big projects done on extreme deadlines with no room for mistakes.” CSDA contractors are often called upon to tackle complex and sensitive job quickly, efficiently and safely. Magnum again proves why diamond cutting techniques and CSDA contractors are the best choice when needing the job completed successfully with precision and accuracy.

COMPANY PROFILE
Magnum Sawing & Coring, Inc. has been in business since
2005, with most of their crew joining the team over 10
years ago. They have 8 trucks and 14 crew members, all
with significant core drilling experience. Magnum focuses
primarily on historical buildings, commercial, healthcare
and industrial projects, and provide services for electric
and gas slab sawing, hi-cycle and hydraulic wall sawing,
core drilling, hand sawing, chain sawing, ring sawing and
selective demolition. They have been CSDA members since
2008.
RESOURCES
General Contractor
J. Reynolds, Inc.
CSDA Cutting Contractor
Magnum Sawing & Coring, Inc.
Irving, TX
Danny Spencer
Phone: 972-251-1300
Email: danny@magnumsawing.com
Methods Used
Slab Sawing, Core Drilling, Hand Sawing, Selective Demo

Author: Russell Hitchen

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