09:50 AM

Topping-out Ceremony Marks Milestone in Campus Construction

Many may have noticed a plain Christmas tree standing atop the new garage and welcome center construction site at Girard Street. From the viewpoint of a pedestrian on the ground, a Douglas fir standing over a building under construction is a strange sight. For the site's construction workers, it's business as usual - moreover, it is a milestone in a successful project.

Construction workers topping out

In the construction industry, "topping out" refers to a centuries-old builders' rite in which a crew places a tree atop a structure to mark the installation of its final beam. The ceremony dates back to an 8th-century Scandinavian practice in which sheaths of grain acted as an offering to the Norse god Odin's horse, Slepnir, in return for Odin's blessing on the home and its occupants. The ceremony spread through colonized Europe, leading to the replacement of grain with trees.

In modern America, the final beam is often signed, and a U.S. flag may accompany the tree. The purpose of the ceremony remains the same - to celebrate a safe construction site, to look forward to the completion of the job, and to bring good fortune to the building and its future inhabitants.

After topping out, numerous elements of construction remain, including interior finish and most mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

Girard Street Building Topping Out Construction views, courtesy of Sports & Fitness.