As It Happens

Leaning Tower of Dallas survives explosives and comically small wrecking ball

"It is the most Dallas thing that I've ever seen," Nataly Keomoungkhoun, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, told As It Happens host Carol Off.

'It is the most Dallas thing that I've ever seen,' says reporter Nataly Keomoungkhoun

People gather to watch the demolition of the Leaning Tower of Dallas. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)
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Story Transcript

Admirers of the Leaning Tower of Dallas can relax because the viral landmark isn't going anywhere quickly. 

Since Feb. 16, the core of the 11-storey building has been leaning to one side after explosives were detonated inside and it survived. 

Now it's a cause célèbre — inspiring memes and lively discussions from armchair demolition experts. 

"It is the most Dallas thing that I've ever seen," Nataly Keomoungkhoun, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

The tower has gone viral online. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)

The former Affiliated Computer Services building was set to be demolished weeks ago. Roads were shut down and people gathered to watch it fall. When the explosives went off, the outside crumbled, but it's core stood strong because the elevator shaft is made of pure concrete. 

Videos and photos of the building went viral and it was dubbed the Leaning Tower of Dallas, a play on Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

Comically small wrecking ball

Then, on Monday, the demolition crew brought in a crane and wrecking ball to bring down the core of the building.

The problem was, it was "comical" how small the wrecking ball was compared to the building, Keomoungkhoun said. 

"I watched ... about a dozen times that this little wrecking ball hits the side of the building. And nothing happened," she said.

"It was something that you couldn't help but laugh at. It was hilarious." 

Nataly Keomoungkhoun says it was 'comical' how small the wrecking ball was compared to the building. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

The wrecking ball, which weighs 2,540 kilograms, quickly became the subject of memes. One man posed in front of the building with a sign that read "use a bigger ball." 

Keomoungkhoun said she spoke with the demolition crew who told her that the reason the wrecking ball is so small is because regulation says it cannot weigh more than half of what the crane weighs. 

An expert told the Dallas Morning News that the company likely misjudged the size of the crane needed to take down the building more quickly. A larger crane would likely be expensive, since it takes several days to set it up. 

The construction company, which originally said it would only take a few days to destroy the building with the wrecking ball, has now extended its timeline to a few weeks.

The crew is chipping away at the top of the building until it is low enough for an excavator with a hydraulic hammer to finish the job, the company said in a statement to the New York Times

Keomoungkhoun said she spoke with a crane operator who has worked in the industry for the past 40 years, and who said this is some of the toughest concrete he has ever seen. 

"So really it is props to whoever built that," she said. 

A crowd watches as the demolition crew chips away at the top levels of the former Affiliated Computer Services building with a wrecking ball on Monday. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News/The Associated Press)

As well as being a viral sensation, the Leaning Tower of Dallas has received attention from Lego.

The Legoland Discovery Center Dallas/Fort Worth created a miniature Leaning Tower of Dallas for Miniland, a replica of the city skyline. 

On Tuesday, the Legoland Discovery Center livestreamed the "demolition" of the tower, which lasted two hours.

"Every 15 minutes they were taking away a few Legos off of the building as if they were demolishing it at the same rate as the real tower," Keomoungkhoun said. 

Keomoungkhoun says the Leaning Tower of Dallas really embodies the "spirit of Dallas."

"This building is kind of like us Dallasites and like us Texans. We are tough. We are strong. We won't go down without a fight," she said.

Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Steven Howard.

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