John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A falling block of concrete weighing several tons cleaved this building in two, making it look like Stonehenge.
The botched dismantling occurred in the Hammerbrook quarter near the city center. A type of mechanical rig that the Morgenpost identifies as a "Longfrontbagger" was jabbing at the roof of the empty structure – whose intact self is preserved on Google Maps – to bring it down so a new office structure can move into the site. But somebody at Wiwa Wilko Wagner, which is not a jolly brotherhood of Black Forest elves but a construction firm, misjudged on the poking. The result was that a block of concrete weighing several tons dislodged from the top and plowed down the building, taking the lower floors with it in a crashing domino effect.
Reports from the scene describe hours-long traffic hell caused by billowing dust and AWOL rubble, although a couple of well-placed stairwells inside the so-called "Saxon Castle" kept the structure from completely disintegrating. As of this week the authorities were debating what to do with the odd-looking remains that, to quote one source, were cleaved in two like "a Giant make a Karate Punch right throug the Building." Construction crews expressed a desire to tear it down "very gently," a strategy that may be too little too late but nevertheless sounds smart.