More than 100 workers, bedecked in fluorescent vests and hardhats, gathered Thursday in the construction yard adjacent to the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library. They stood in front of the renovation/construction project to witness the traditional “topping-out ceremony,” marking the installation of the two uppermost steel beams in the project.
The workers, eating boxed lunches, were interspersed with University officials there to mark the occasion. Earlier, construction workers, University officials and library personnel – ranging from Colette Sheehy, UVA’s senior vice president for operations and state government relations, to John Calvin, a project executive for Skanska Construction – autographed the two 16-foot steel beams, six inches in width.
The Alderman Library renovation/construction project started in 2019. The two beams are part of the steel-framed clerestory roof structure, an architectural feature that will allow natural light to reach the study and reading rooms inside the library. The clerestory roof structure is the only steel part of the added structure, which is entirely concrete.
In recognition of this, Skanska, the general contractor on the project, hosted the topping-out on the 881st day of construction. A crane hoisted the final two beams, draped with a 3- by 5-foot U.S. flag, into place.
The renovated library, now 64% complete, will feature a new north entrance (facing University Avenue) with a terrace and doors opening into a spacious second-floor lobby. When Alderman Library was originally built in 1937, it featured a stately facade on its north side, but when the new stacks were built in 1967, this side became an uninviting wall. The renovated building, designed by HBRA Architects with Clark Nexsen, will feature more natural light, improved climate control, more accessibility and more open spaces.