Demolition begins of St Louis 18-story hospital tower along busy stretch of Kingshighway

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Crews have begun tearing down the 18-story tower along a busy stretch of Kingshighway that has been part of the sprawling Barnes-Jewish Hospital medical campus for 55 years. The 321-foot-tall Queeny Tower, which stands next to the hospital’s main building on Barnes-Jewish Plaza, was built in 1965 primarily for long-term patients.

It once had a mix of hospital beds, doctors’ offices, hotel rooms, a restaurant and a swimming pool on the top floor with a solarium roof. The tower has been closed since November 2019. Because the building stands within feet of other buildings and a busy roadway, using a wrecking ball or implosion is not possible. A 400-foot crane is tearing down the upper floors one at a time, including a 17th-floor bridge connecting it to the hospital, according to a news release about the process. Scaffolding, netting and plywood along the north, east and west sides of the building will contain the debris. The crane stands on the south side, where debris is loaded into trucks. Excavators will take down the lower floors and parking garage.

Demolition is expected to last until late September.
Removal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, was completed in 2020, officials said. Noise, vibration, odors and dust will be monitored by a third-party contractor; and demolition will halt if thresholds are exceeded. Edgar Monsanto Queeny and his wife, Ethel, donated $4.5 million to build the $9 million structure. The hotel rooms within the tower — the Queeny Tower Hotel — closed in 1997 because of the need for patient rooms. The 17th floor restaurant closed in 2016.
A new 17-story inpatient tower is being designed to replace the building. The construction timeline has not been determined.

BJC HealthCare has installed cameras so people can watch the demolition live online at: bjc.org/Construction/News/Live-Webcams.

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