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Crane Hot Line

Mammoet Takes Down a Heavyweight

June 17, 2020 - In the center of downtown Detroit, the retired Joe Louis Arena stood in the way of the development of land along the Detroit River.

The arena was named for former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit.

To help facilitate demolition of the former hockey venue, Mammoet was contracted to lower the main roof truss.

The arena’s proximity to a neighboring metro center and the large underground sewer main that ran beneath the truss dictated that the building be taken down by traditional dismantling instead of implosion.

Mammoet’s client, Adamo Group Inc., was challenged with removing the roof truss structure. The original plan called for it to be dismantled at height, beam by beam.

However, Mammoet proposed that the entire roof truss structure be lowered closer to the ground as a single piece, so it could be dismantled more easily.

That method required a coordinated effort in which Mammoet’s expert personnel and specialized equipment worked alongside Adamo’s experienced demolition team to bring down the truss in a tight window of acceptable weather conditions.

The main roof truss, which contained the arena’s penthouse, was the largest – and last -- component to be removed. The truss was 440’ long and consisted of a steel frame with concrete decking. It weighed 2,480 U.S. tons.

To lower the truss without jeopardizing the existing nearby infrastructure, Mammoet proposed placing large beams underneath the truss to lift the structure from its supports, then lowering the piece onto supports using strand jacks.

The starting height of the roof was 85’, and Mammoet safely lowered it to 20’ so that the client’s equipment was able to reach the truss to cut it into smaller, more manageable, pieces.

The procedure for lifting and lowering the truss was developed with input from field supervisors and engineers. Due to the lack of detailed information about the truss and its weight, the procedure was designed to lift the truss free while still allowing the operation to be safely aborted if the truss weighed more than estimated.

On the day of lowering, the Mammoet team lifted the truss to verify its weight. Once the weight was deemed acceptable, the client removed the ends of the truss to provide clearance to lower it past its existing supports.

Mammoet used eight strand jacks for lowering and two pairs of 8’-tall girders braced together to support the roof.

With so many jacks connected to one rigid piece, the Mammoet team had to carefully monitor the truss during lowering to be sure that the truss and lifting equipment were loaded as planned. Within four hours after the ends of the truss were cut free, Mammoet’s team of six had lowered the truss and set it on the client’s shoring piles.

Throughout planning and execution, Mammoet and Adamo worked together to ensure that all work needed to lower the roof truss could be done in minimal time without compromising safety. Ultimately, the team effort to lower the truss in a single piece proved to be a safer method than beam-by-beam demolition, while also providing more control.

Richard M. Adamo, president of Adamo Group, said, “I would recommend Mammoet to other contractors, as they display real professionalism on the job. The team is very engaged and willing to overcome obstacles collectively and come up with solutions,” he said. “With safety being of paramount importance on this project, and sensitive in nature due to the close watch of the public’s eye, Mammoet took all necessary precautions. It was a wonderful experience working alongside this team.”

“The Joe,” as locals affectionally call it, opened in 1979 and could hold up to 20,000 people. During its 38-year life, The Joe hosted Detroit Red Wings hockey games, other sporting events, and concerts before holding its final event in July 2017. Developers aim to revamp the area for mixed-use development.


Crane Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.