The demolition of the old building has been going on for some weeks; the inside was emptied of all wood, floorboards, ceilings, fibreglass insulation, metal. Like a chrysalis all seemed quiet but much was going on inside.
The soil for the park was moved across the site and formed a new ziggurat in the south playground and others have been built across the site.
On Sunday 16 December it was revealed that a private company, limited by guarantee, had been established on 12 December and had immediately applied to the City of Edinburgh Council to have the school building transferred into its ownership at nil cost, under Part 5 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The Association of the Friends of St John’s wanted the building to use for arts purposes. On Friday 14 December, the Council refused the application.
It was not clear how this would be resolved. The Association said it would appeal against the refusal. Its own application reports an estimate that the building would cost £2,345,000 to put into usable condition. The Association intended to raise this sum from various charitable and philanthropic bodies, although it was not itself a charitable body.
Then late morning on 17 December the west wing was attacked by a picker and within minutes the walls fell taking the roof with them. Work continued to 6pm, under floodlights with the west wing gone completely. The next morning the first bay of 3 windows fell, quite early and at 9.45 the base of the weather vane lurched and fell. The School Master weathervane had been rescued the previous week. Midday came and the central block descended. The building seemed so fragile – indeed, it may be a relief that such an easily-demolished building is no longer in use as a public place.
Demolition was completed at 5.00pm on 18 December.