IT TOOK ONLY SECONDS- and fewer than 150 pounds of explosives -- to bring down a seven-story building Sunday on the Roswell Park Cancer Institute campus.
Old Main Hospital, as the 47-year-old structure was known, went down with a loud boom about 9:15 a.m., breaking some nearby windows and sending large clouds of dust out into the medical-corridor neighborhood.
A landscaped park, complete with a fountain and reflection pool, is slated to rise from the dust.
"We have lots of broken glass, and dust," William K. Clark, Roswell Park director of facilities planning, said after the blast. "This was not unexpected. It does happen."
Glass in two windows in the new main hospital gift shop, and one on the new hospital's first floor, was shattered in the explosion. The windows were immediately boarded up, and workers for Ontario Specialty Contracting began removing glass and other debris from the explosion.
"By Tuesday, we should be in full-steam operation," Clark said of the gift shop and other affected areas.
Demolition of Old Main Hospital and landscaping for the new park are the last two projects in the hospital's decade-long, $250 million modernization plan, Clark noted.
"This is very exciting for us -- it's the culmination of 10 years of work," he said.
Clark was one of more than 200 excited, if bitterly cold, onlookers gathered to watch the 30,000-square-foot building at Carlton and Elm streets collapse.
The oldest remaining building on the cancer institute's campus, it was used primarily over the years for inpatient rooms, Clark said.
Engineered Demolition of Hayden Lake, Idaho, was the subcontractor in charge of Sunday's demolition.
"We are going from one end to the other, not from the middle," the company's president Anna Chong said before the explosion, explaining that the building would not collapse inward, as in an implosion, but in one direction -- southeast to northwest.
"The usual, middle way is not the most practical in this case, with another building (the new main hospital) so close," she said.
Jon M. Williams is president of Ontario Specialty Contracting of Buffalo, which has the hospital demolition contract with the state Dormitory Authority.
He said Sunday's effort, two weeks in preparation, involved placing explosive charges strategically on the Old Main Hospital's first three floors while cabling its upper floors together.
Police and fire vehicles surrounded the site, making sure onlookers were well outside a 1,000-foot perimeter of the building, marked by yellow tape. All adjacent buildings were empty.
Many at the site were hospital employees, including Donna Donohue of West Seneca, assistant to Roswell Park's president, who brought her nephews, Patrick, 7, and Brandon, 4, to the demolition.
Neither had ever seen a building fall down before.
"Only one on the TV," said Patrick.
The 2.7-acre site the old hospital building stood on will be graded and enclosed with fencing, with landscaping slated to begin in the spring, hospital officials said.
When completed, the new park will offer patients, family members and others not only a fountain and reflection pool but a contemplation garden.
There will be an area for group therapies, and a sculpture and donor walk as well as raised herbal planters.