Hearing hearty cheers and a smattering of applause from spectators, a construction worker “topped off” the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex on Monday afternoon.
Jake Treptan of Sowles Steel Erection placed the final steel beam – 28 feet long and 364 pounds – into a mansard gable on the southwest corner, just above where athletic director and men’s basketball Steve Fritz will have his third-floor office.
Before the beam was hoisted into place, staff members and administrators from St. Thomas signed their names in purple ink on the beam and joined construction workers from Opus Northwest and its subcontractors for lunch in the new field house.
A “topping off” ceremony, a tradition in the construction industry, typically occurs after all of the steel is erected. That work had to be delayed on the athletic and recreation complex until O’Shaughnessy Hall was razed last month and there was enough room to finish the southwest corner of the complex.
Greg Swanson, an Opus superintendent, said 201 construction workers were on site on Monday. That number gradually will taper off as work continues into the summer to finish the building and open it in early August. Many of the same workers will remain at St. Thomas because construction will begin next month on the adjacent Anderson Student Center.
Anywhere one walked on Monday, workers could be found handling a number of tasks. For example, 22 masons are on site to handle stone and brick work. Nearly three exterior sides have been wrapped in limestone or brick, with work remaining on the west side and the southwest corner.
The 195,000-square-foot complex will feature a basketball and volleyball arena, aquatic center, field house, fitness center, and offices and classrooms for the Athletics and Health and Human Performance departments.
One key individual missed Monday’s events, but for good reason. Beth Duyvejonck, the project’s coordinator for Opus, gave birth to her first child on Saturday. Madeline Kirkvold arrived a week early, healthy and happy at 7 pounds, 11 ounces.