Kirwan Blanding blocks face axe…

University of Kentucky’s twin 23-story towers are scheduled for demolition.

For 50 years, the Kirwan Blanding complex — its towering twin towers looming over the south side of campus — were among the University of Kentucky’s most iconic images.

But those icons can no longer provide the housing spaces that students desire, so they are being demolished.

On Tuesday, the UK Board of Trustees approved a plan to demolish the entire complex, which includes the two 23-story towers and eight low-rise buildings that are tucked amid gentle rises and trees. UK officials said the nearly 13 acres will become campus green space, and they were quick to say that the towering canopy of oak trees, planted in 1969, will remain.

The demolition is estimated to cost about $15 million, compared to a $126 million estimate for renovation to modern standards, which include private bedrooms and bathrooms.

Demolition will be complicated, officials said. Directly underneath the complex is a series of utility tunnels. Those will all have to be rerouted, which could happen as soon as next year. Then asbestos abatement must occur before demolition can begin.

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