Apple Store

Apple Store

In Confined Spaces “Everything had to go just right! If anyone is late, the entire project misses the Grand Opening.”

Project Details

Project Type: Demolition
Location: Santa Monica, CA
General Contractor: DPR Construction
Contact: Doug Allen

Start Date: March 2003
Finish Date: July 2003
Contract Value: $60,000
Contract Type: Fixed Price

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Job Highlights

  • Extremely tight, unchangeable deadlines
  • All work had to be performed from within the building itself
  • Only one small doorway was available to move all equipment, materials, and men through simultaneous demolition and construction
  • Job site was in the middle of a pedestrian zone
  • Unknown existing building structures
  • Pedestrians will be walking right up against the site
  • No room for heavy equipment
  • Restricted work hours


This building, built in 1955, had a long history in it’s last configuration as a clothing store. There was a large concrete foundation covering the entire first floor. In the back third, there was a second story with storage and offices. In 1955 you could use virtually any kind of building material including asbestos. The building codes were not nearly as strict as they are today. There were not even current building plans to work from. Grand opening plans were already in process, and the entire construction schedule was tight. Schedule slippage on any step, by any one of the many contractors, including Fast Forward, put the whole project in jeopardy of missing the grand opening. Because of this tight schedule, demolition and construction work began simultaneously.

The job involved several aspects of demolition. Each layer had to be peeled away to expose what was underneath. The thickness of the foundation or where pipes were located was not even known.The old floor tile covering the entire ground floor had an asbestos base. Fast Forward coordinated with the hazardous abatement subcontractor to remove the tiles. Further complicating matters, asbestos was discovered in some of the ceiling tiles, and insulation issues with the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) Insulation.

The project, located in a prime shopping and tourist area in Santa Monica, the 3rd Street Promenade, complicated the situation. Work started by erecting a protective barrier that extended out far enough to provide a safe working area in front of the building, while not interfering with the flow of foot traffic. There was no closing the street or sidewalks. Safety for both the public and the work crew was paramount. The city imposed other restrictions. Work hours were designated from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM, equipment was not allowed in or out via the front; the alley in back was to remain accessible to surrounding businesses.

Once all the hazardous materials were removed, Fast Forward began gutting the remaining building. The façade on the front had to be removed piecemeal. After the front signs were removed, the remainder of the façade was removed, layer by layer, back to the brick structure. Several layers of various ceramic materials were encountered, each chipping apart differently.

No chances could be taken that a chip may fly out and injure someone. The entire front of the building was covered with tarps. All work was performed under the tarps in the hot sun. Jack hammers and chipping guns were used in the confined space, while working on mobile scaffolding, to chip away the facade in a carefully controlled process. Not a single piece of the façade ended up outside the protective perimeter. Supervisors were on site at all times to make sure the demolition efforts were well coordinated with construction. Even with both teams simultaneously onsite, no work site injuries occurred while Fast Forward was on the project.The interior was to be completely repartitioned, so the insides were gutted without altering or damaging the existing superstructure. In addition, the existing heating and air conditioning (HVAC) ducting and equipment was removed without damaging any of the ceiling framing. Each unit and the duct work was carefully disassembled, and one piece at a time, lowered and removed. All interior lighting, stairways and office finishing were to be removed. In addition, the lighting in the building was so old the fixtures had to be treated as hazardous waste. Fast Forward met these challenges without any site contamination.

At this point, the interior foundation was carefully sawcut from the street sidewalk leaving a clean edge to city property. The front four fifths of the foundation was removed in small sections to allow construction efforts to continue at the same time. Moving large blocks of cut concrete, and other debris posed special safety concerns. Utilizing both supervisory personnel and additional coordination personnel, Fast Forward completed the process in a timely manner, with no onsite incidents.

The city of Santa Monica’s permit process requires mandatory recycling. There were no onsite space to make scrap piles, no place to bring in large refuse hauling trucks, and only one small doorway to move men and equipment and materials through. Essentially, all equipment and supplies for both demolition and construction had to be inside the building at all times! Fast Forward overcame all of these difficulties by moving all demolition materials to a 40 yard bin tucked into the corner of the alley. The debris was then hauled to an offsite facility where the materials were sorted for recycling.

Everything on this project was controlled to the smallest detail to meet the time requirement established by the owner in order to make their grand opening date, which could not be extended. Fast Forward met all the deadlines, avoided any damage to surrounding properties, prevented onsite injuries, met all the items specified in the contract requirements, managed all of the material recycling and hazardous waste disposal.