Herald and Review from Decatur, Illinois on April 28, 1996 · Page 58
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

Herald and Review from Decatur, Illinois · Page 58

Decatur, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 28, 1996
Page 58
Start Free Trial

jf ""I'M PROUD THAT MY SONS fj I I wanted to go into the busi- done so well," said Jack Loizeaux (pronounced luh-wah-so), 81, the founder of Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI). "This is fun," said Doug, one of Jack's sons. "We've joked for years that we get paid very well for ful filling a childhood fantasy. And it's rewarding too. Some people design things, and it takes years to come to fruition. We design something, and we know within 1 0 seconds whether it works or not." On a cold November morning last year, I stood in an empty Las Vegas parking lot and waited for something remarkable to happen. A few hundred feet in front of me stood the 32-story Landmark Hotel, the once-legendary retreat of the billionaire Howard Hughes. The 30-year-old building was being torn down to make room for new construction. At 356 feet, it had long been the tallest building in Nevada. It was about to become the tallest building in North America and the second tallest in the world to be demolished by explosives. The only taller concrete building to be blown up was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was 365 feet tall. The Loizeaux family brought mat one down too. For decades, I had wanted to know how Jack Loizeaux and his family work. One night on the evening news 24 years ago, I had watched in amazement as a part of St. Louis' Pruitt-Igoe housing project was demolished in little more than the blink of an eye by a demolitions expert. When he pushed a button that triggered some explosives, the buildings rumbled to the ground. All around the rubble, the low-rise buildings the city wanted to save stood un-scarred. I did not know then that I was watching the work of the Loizeauxs. When Jack retired in 1986, Mark and Doug Loizeaux took over the Maryland-based company founded by their father in 1960. Mark, 48, is president and Doug, 45, is vice president They alternate projects. Mark designed the explosive plan for the Landmark Hotel, and it seems he found himself dogged by the spirit of the eccentric Howard Hughes. To begin with, no blueprints existed for the building. "They would build a floor, then tear up the plans and build another floor," Mark said. Where the Loizeauxs thought they would find plumbing and wiring, they discovered a hidden staircase running the height of the building, from Hughes' penthouse to a secret exit at street level. The building had no beams; each of its floors was a concrete For nearly 40 years, the Loizeaux family has been playing with dynamite and doing a bang-up job. 1 is The Loizeaux legacy: Stacey in front of the Landmark Hotel with (l-r) her dad, Mark, Uncle Doug and Grandfather Jack. A Hp7 ft W slab that hung loosely from the four sets of pillars and the elevator shaft. "This is essentially five buildings," Mark explained. "Any of the pillars or the elevator shaft could stand alone. I think the building will sit down a couple of floors and then fall over," he said confidendy. The interior of the hotel had been stripped. Demolition equipment had bit off most of the outer walls of the lower four floors. Inside, I found three generations of Loizeauxs at work. Mark and Doug, and Mark's daughter Stacey, 25, were threading lengths of thin blue cord into holes drilled in the building's interior walls. Stacey 's sister Adrienne, 19, was busily taking pictures of the work. "This is explosive cord," Doug ex plained. "The walls are 15 inches thick. It will take them down." Although 8 1 years old, Jack Loizeaux was helping to stuff sticks of dynamite into the stout columns that formed the building's main support. "Every time I do a job, I thank the Lord for gravity," he said. "That's what does our work." In every project, the Loizeauxs follow one basic principle: "We'll use less than 100 pounds of explosives to bring down however many hundreds of tons the building weighs." The building would be toppled by planting explosives in the walls and columns facing the parking lot and cutting through to weaken the wall that faced the street. "It's like felling a tree," M I H "This is rewarding," says Doug. "Some people design things, and it takes years to come to fruition. We design something, and we know within 10 seconds if it works." L RYAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY CRAIG L MORAN PAGE 4 APRIL 28, 1996 PARADE MAGAZINE

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 19,000+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Herald and Review
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free