Monday, March 19, 2007

Tree Tops New Library!

San Marino Public Library holds traditional “Topping Out” celebration as last steel beam is hoisted atop new facility.

Those recently driving down Huntington Drive in San Marino might have done a double take and wondered what fraternity or practical joker was behind the prank when they spied a tree – yes, a tree – atop the new facility currently under construction for the San Marino Public Library. But the tree was there because it was supposed to be – as part of a time-honored tradition among ironworkers called “Topping Out.”

This milestone celebrates the placing of the final, top piece of steel on a new building, explained Alex Main, Construction Manager for Bernard’s Construction Management. As tradition demands, an American flag was raised along with the tree and the final beam was painted white, so that the members of Ironworkers Union 433 and over 200 visiting dignitaries could sign it.

Guests included Dr. Matthew Lin, Mayor of San Marino; City Manager Matt Ballantyne; architects from Harley Ellis Devereaux, which designed the new library; City department heads and city employees; members of the San Marino Unified School Board; representatives from the San Marino Public Library’s Board of Trustees and Foundation; Friends of the San Marino Public Library; and five of the six City Council candidates. Even a Humanities class from Southwestern Academy in San Marino took a short field trip to join the crowd as well.

“It was a wonderful, perfect opportunity for the students to watch local history in the making,” said Carolyn Crain, City Librarian. “But what I, myself, will remember most, for years to come, is all the positive energy and support that surrounded us.”

In fact, there was so much support from the community that City police opted to close Huntington Drive briefly, to allow the crowd to cross to the median to watch the “topping out” of the final beam.

As is often the case on larger projects like the new 29,000 square foot San Marino Public Library – which will include such amenities as a Lifelong Learning Center, Children’s Library, Reference and Technology Area, Community Meeting Room and Chinese Collection – the “Topping Out” ceremony included an outdoor lunch for the crew and guests, compliments of Bernards, prior to the placement of the last beam at 2 p.m.

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