Sometimes it’s a big celebration. Other times it’s low-key. But in construction, it’s a time-honored tradition to conduct a topping out ceremony when the last brick, steel beam or piece of concrete has been placed on a building.
On May 1,Voyle Masonry, the crew building our new Central Energy Plant, laid that last concrete block that forms the two-story building. To mark the milestone, the Columbia, S.C.-based firm, placed the U.S. and the South Carolina flags on top of the CEP, which is at the east end of the terminal.
A topping out, or topping off, ceremony has its roots in Scandinavian religious practices and is similar to ceremonies that mark the naming and launching of ships. Ancient Scandinavians would place a tree or leafy branch on the top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits that were displaced by the construction. Over time, flags of the state and country also would be flown atop the buildings.
The practice is common in many places in Europe and the United States.
In the Netherlands, a flag is flown at the highest point of a new building and remains there until the building’s owner provides workers with free beer. Only then is the flag removed. It’s considered bad taste to leave the flag up for more than two days.
Now work begins to close in the building, install chillers, boilers and generators so the CEP can power the airport.