Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Preliminary demolition of W hall at the Deseret Towers on-campus dormitories at BYU started Tuesday as crews punched a whole in the outside wall of W Hall.

PROVO — Demolition day for two of seven landmark Deseret Towers dormitories at Brigham Young University could come during Christmas break after workers punched a hole through an exterior wall of W Hall on Tuesday.

"They are looking at the best way to bring the building down," BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said. "They are doing some preparation work, but demolition won't take place until about the third week of December to the end of December."

The university has also decided to vacate the other five towers at the end of the school year in August, Jenkins said. The dorms will remain open for the 2007 Education Week, which brings more than 20,000 adults to campus from around the world.

One exterior wall at W Hall came down Tuesday morning as a crew used heavy machinery to expose the bottom floor for review by demolition experts. A guard was posted to keep students and others from wandering into the condemned building until a fence is erected.

Workers have been stripping the building of usable materials and wiring for months, since BYU announced in June that it would raze W and V halls. W Hall is the newest of the seven towers that house single students, built in 1978. V Hall was built in 1969. Both were serving as men-only dorms.

The university vacated the halls in August. BYU made up for the loss of on-campus single-student rooms by converting part of Wyview Park to single-student housing. Wyview Park had experienced a growing number of vacancies as a married student complex.

It appears likely the rest of Wyview Park will be converted to single-student housing by the end of the summer.

The other five Deseret Towers buildings are in operation, with women in S, T and U halls and men in Q and R. BYU plans to vacate them, probably by the end of next summer. The university hasn't decided when it will demolish the buildings.

College students now prefer apartment-style living over dorms, BYU concluded after looking at national and local studies. There are a large number of vacancies at Deseret Towers, with no women living on the second floors of T and U Halls.

BYU has not decided whether it will replace Deseret Towers or what else might be done with the site. The university began overhauling its on-campus housing in 1992 and completed a major renovation of Helaman Halls in 2005.

Deseret Towers is dated and ill-equipped for retrofitting with the technology-based needs of college students. By the time the remaining towers close in August, the new Alpine Village project west of campus is scheduled to be completed. BYU has a contract with Alpine Village to provide housing exclusively for BYU students.

The university signed a contract with Centennial Apartments just south of campus to do the same.