• UST, Opus Celebrate ‘Topping off’ Anderson Student Center

    Editor’s note: This is the first of an occasional series of stories that Bulletin Today will publish over the next 15 months until the opening of the Anderson Student Center in January 2012.

    Scooter’s was open for lunch on Thursday.

    You knew that, of course. Scooter’s, in Murray-Herrick Campus Center, is always open for lunch during the school year.

    We’re talking about the new Scooter’s, in the new Anderson Student Center.

    About 150 people, including construction workers and St. Thomas administrators, gathered in the new Scooter’s to celebrate a project milestone – the “topping off” of the 240,000-square-foot building with the last piece of structural steel.

    But first they had lunch. They sat at long tables on concrete floors in the barren, easternmost part of the building, dining on pork sandwiches and marveling at the progress made since May by Opus Design Build construction crews. Then they headed outside to the plaza that will be formed by the Summit and Cretin wings to sign the final steel beam.

    A “topping off” ceremony is a tradition in the construction industry, but this event had some special color. Purple and blue, to be exact.

    The 26-foot, 312-pound beam was painted half blue, Opus’ color, and half purple, for St. Thomas. Ryan Iverson, sitting high above the site in the tower crane, hoisted the beam to Rocky Galindo and Paul Gallagher of Danny’s Construction Co., and they slipped it into place.

    “We just wanted to have a little lunch and thank people for their hard work on this project,” Craig Larson, an Opus vice president who has been involved in St. Thomas construction project for more than 20 years, told the new Scooter’s audience earlier.

    He also thanked construction workers for the caution they have exercised on the project, given its size. “We’ve had a few little cuts and scrapes but no accidents,” he said, “and that’s great.”

    St. Thomas construction manager Jim Brummer said the project remains comfortably on schedule, helped along by nearly perfect weather in October.

    Athletic director Steve Fritz was among those who signed their names to the final piece of structural steel that "topped off" the Anderson Student Center.

    Athletic director Steve Fritz was among those who signed their names to the final piece of structural steel that "topped off" the Anderson Student Center.

    Structural steel is 90 percent complete, much of it covered with yellow fiberglass wallboard that then will be covered with a waterproofing membrane. Mark Vangsgard, vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer, noticed the black membrane on the east end of the Summit wing and suggested, somewhat jokingly, that the membrane should be purple.

    The application of the membrane precedes another St. Thomas tradition: the hanging of limestone from the Vetter Stone Co. quarry near Mankato. More than a dozen masons will begin to hang 48,000 square feet of limestone the week of Nov. 15, a project that will take six months to complete.

    About 115 construction workers from Opus and its subcontractors worked on the site Thursday, and those numbers will double by spring, Brummer said. Most of the concrete floors in the four-level building have been poured, with another pour – the cafeteria floor on the second level of the Cretin wing – scheduled for Friday. Roofing work will begin later this month and window installation will follow in mid-December.

    “Something new happens every day,” Brummer said. “Before you know it, the building will be open.”

    And then all of you will be able to enjoy the new Scooter’s.

    With the shell of the 240,000-square-foot Anderson Student Center in the background, the last pece of structural steel begins its ascent to "top off" construction.

    With the shell of the 240,000-square-foot Anderson Student Center in the background, the last pece of structural steel begins its ascent to "top off" construction.

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