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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

West Campus Green project collaborators celebrate milestone

Construction workers and other project contributors gather to sign off the last beam of the building
Michaela Mateo
Site workers enjoy food and recreation in the ‘topping off’ (last beam installment) celebration of the upcoming West Campus Green Dining and Health Center on Nov. 1, 2023. (Michaela Mateo / Golden Gate Xpress)

On Wednesday, workers celebrated the “topping off” of the new residential building at San Francisco State University’s West Campus Green project. Attendees signed the last beam of the building before it was placed.

Construction workers and their families gathered in the soon-to-be break room for a barbecue and raffle to celebrate all their work.

The West Campus Green project started construction in early spring of 2023. This new housing project was funded by the state of California with a $116.3 million grant from the Affordable Student Housing program given to SFSU.

Site worker, Nicholas Holmes, signing the last beam for the “topping off” of the West Campus Green Dining and Health Center on Nov. 1, 2023. (Michaela Mateo / Golden Gate Xpress)

The new residential building will house 750 people. A smaller building will bring a new dining facility and health center to campus.

Anyone on campus was given the opportunity to sign the beam outside of the Humanities building from 7-11 a.m.

Ryszard Pochron is the construction coordinator of the West Campus Green project and was one of the people helping students and others sign the beam. The beam will be hoisted up into the top of the building and integrated into its structure.

“It’s called the topping off for any major building or I guess any building, the last major piece for the structure is where you do the signing,” Pochron said.

Topping out on construction sites is a tradition that can be traced all the way back to 700 A.D. with Scandinavians putting evergreen trees on top of their buildings to signify the maximum height of the building.

Rudy Sanchez, the safety manager for McCarthy Construction, and for the West Campus Green project touches on some of the historical significance for this topping off ceremony.

“Historians also have tied the tradition to Native American customs that no structure should be taller than a tree. Therefore, buildings were topped with an evergreen to appease the forest spirits,” Sanchez said. “In any case, the tree we see today symbolizes positive things, good luck for the future occupants and continued growth with this beautiful environment.”

The West Campus Green project has been in construction for seven months now, and only has 10 more to go before opening in the fall of 2024.

Keith Morehouse is one of the project managers for this site. Today, he celebrated the milestone amongst the construction community and familiar faces.

“A lot of them, actually, we know from past projects. It’s a tight-knit community in the Bay Area construction industry,” Morehuse said. “Sometimes you might not see somebody for five years or 10 years or a couple years, but meeting new people too, everyone has the same mindset. Safety and quality and respect for everybody.”

Now that the building has reached its maximum height, workers can now start their dry-in process.

A forklift transports the last beam towards the “topping off” celebration on the first floor of the upcoming West Campus Green Dining and Health Center on Nov. 1, 2023. (Michaela Mateo / Golden Gate Xpress)

According to Morehouse, dry-in is putting the roof on the building, adding waterproofing to the outside and after all that, putting in actual drywall and finishing touches to the building. The goal to stay on track is to have that done by the middle of December.

Adding the beam to the building after it has been signed acts as a milestone for the workers. Ron Kirkpatrick is one of the project directors for this site and signed the beam like many of his coworkers.

“It’s a way to sort of recognize everyone who’s been a part of the project,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s almost like a time capsule of the people who worked on the job.”

Kirkpatrick and others on site have been collaborating with companies to get this building up and running on schedule. Kirkpatrick says he’s grateful for the additional partnership and how the project has been able to stay on track with the exception of the dining hall, which will be completed by the end of 2024.

“We’ve had a really great experience with our partners McCarthy Construction and EHDD Architects. This is a really fast track project that has to be delivered on a tight budget in a very short timeframe,” Kirkpatrick said. “The collaborative delivery method that we’re using is allowing us to get a lot of great work done in a very short amount of time for a really good price.”

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About the Contributors
Sophia Osborn
Sophia Osborn, Engagement and Online Editor
Sophia Osborn (she/her) is the Engagement and Online editor for Golden Gate Xpress. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in English literature. Sophia has always loved keeping up with the news and reading whatever she can. Coming from sunny San Diego, she graduated from Carlsbad High School, where she wrote and was an editor for the school paper, the Lancer Link. This is her second semester on staff and she is extremely excited about what the future holds in store for her. In her downtime, Sophia can be found hanging out with friends, reading, writing, or playing Mario Kart with her friends.
Michaela Mateo
Michaela Mateo, Visuals Editor
Michaela Gutierrez Mateo (She/Her) is the Golden Gate Xpress Visuals Editor for Fall 2023. Her nickname is Micha, is a 4th year Photojournalism major and an Asian American Studies minor. She is a transfer student from Chabot College, Hayward where she had her first experience as a reporter for The Spectator. Her passion is photography and film but most of all she is a Kdrama and Kpop addict.

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    Katie MurphyNov 7, 2023 at 8:57 am

    This was a very informative and interesting article. I appreciated hearing about the history of this ceremony from the workers themselves.