Long have people debated whether using explosive charges demolish buildings, knocking out key supports so they "implode" within their own footprint, is an art or a science. Stop debating! It's pretty obviously both, and as such, it's about time the year's most memorable demolitions were put in a pageant and judged on execution, catharsis, and overall aesthetic merit. Here are the ten buildings that went out with the most pizzazz in 2014.
10. Fay Street Warehouse
Utica, New York
There's a full seven seconds between when the first blasts are heard from outside this warehouse in Utica, N.Y., and when the brick-and-concrete silo at one corner collapses, throwing up a plume of red dust. Initially, a few people watching seem to think something has gone wrong, but the delayed gratification pays off: "Wow, baby!" exclaims one viewer. "A half-an-hour drive for this!"
9. Sir John Carling Building
Though it's been called the "biggest blast in Ottawa's history," the demolition of Ottawa's Sir John Carling Building made it on this list not for some dubious superlative, but because you can see each vertical section buckle as it comes down. Also taken into consideration was how the cleared-out interior let's you look all the way through some portions, even while they begin to fall.
8. AfE Tower
While it didn't do anything particularly new for the genre, the demolition of this 32-story university building in the Bockenheim district of Frankfurt, Germany—the tallest building in Europe ever felled by implosion, which required a full ton of explosives placed into 1,500 drilled holes—is notable for the cleanness of its execution. The whole thing is over in about ten seconds; after one half of the tower drops, the other lingers in the air for a moment, Wile E. Coyote-esque, before collapsing atop the rest. German engineering at its finest.
7. 25-story high-rise
Maybe it's redundant to call something done with explosives "bombastic," but we stand by the characterization with this Chinese residential tower, which was destroyed at the same time as a nearby bridge. The very externally expressive charges go off in quick succession, progressing up the building, sending large chunks careening off. Rather theatrically, the clocktower-like top section and the cylindrical volume it's perched upon stay intact as they fall.
6. Kyle Field stadium, west side
College Station, Texas
Barring any who were sad to see it go, how could you not appreciate this partial demolition of Texas A&M's Kyle Field stadium? Three tower sections are the first to bow out, sending debris flying as they smash into the ground, before the section behind it buckles, earning extra points for semiotic resonance by bearing the name of the structure.
5. Executive Park Motor Inn
Druid Hills, Georgia
Notable because an adorable four-year-old got to press the button that brought it down, the Executive Park Motor Inn's demolition is also cool because it let's you track the charges going off inside. You can see them through the windows running up the center of the building, before a full floor blows out on two sides.
4. Scott Tower
Greenville, South Carolina
Implosion contractor Steve Pettigrew called the collapsing of Scott Tower "perfect," and though he likely meant that it went off according to plan, without damage to nearby structures, it was also formally excellent (though to be sure, the soundtrack in this clip does help). The early '70s residential tower drops from the center outward, and the two supports on the sides fold down neatly over the rest.
3. Houston Club building
Some might protest that the visual splendor of the Houston Club building's demolition was only due to the fact that the outer walls had already been removed. Our thought is: a good implosion is a good implosion, and we're going to leave this light show right here.
2. Wellington Hotel Annex
Albany, New York
Albany's Wellington Hotel Annex was given a very colorful sendoff when it was cleared to make room for a $66M convention center. Which parts were for the fireworks display, and which were for the demolition? We (mostly) can't tell, which seems like the point.
1. Maltby Colliery's No. 3 winding tower
South Yorkshire, England
What, you are probably wondering, was the Maltby Colliery's No. 3 winding tower? Before production was shut down in 2013, it helped the mine produce more than one million metric tons of coal a year. A controlled demolition at the lower level brought the tower crashing down in July, with the bulk of it staying awesomely and terribly intact until it hit the ground and cracked in half. There's nothing clean about this one. It's sublime in the Romantic sense, which is to say: kind of horrifying.