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Topping-Off Ceremony Marks Next Phase of DCC Construction

The College held a “topping-off” ceremony this month as the final beam was placed atop the forthcoming Dining and Community Commons (DCC) building. The moment marked a key milestone in the DCC’s ongoing progress. 

Placing the final, tallest beam “is part of the sequence that will allow us to close the building in, and to move to the next stage of this project,” says Susan Smythe, senior project manager and ADA program coordinator. It is a time to celebrate the efforts of a dedicated construction crew, and an act that symbolizes good fortune for those who will one day live and work in this space, Smythe adds. “I found it both moving and inspiring, and everyone on the site was very excited.”

“The fact that we were setting a final mass timber beam in place is especially satisfying because we are demonstrating that a more sustainable structural material than steel is available and practical,” says Andy Feick, associate vice president for sustainable facilities operation and capital planning. “Mass timber has not been widely deployed in the Mid-Atlantic, and ours is an important demonstration of its success.” 

By utilizing sustainably harvested mass timber, the DCC will eliminate a significant portion of the embodied carbon associated with steel structures. With “50% of embodied carbon in buildings [coming] from the structure of the building, a mass timber structural system … was found to eliminate a significant portion of the embodied carbon associated with steel structures and sequester a considerable amount of carbon for the life of the facility,” according to project architects DLR Group.

With the tallest beam now in place, what’s next for the DCC project? Upcoming steps involve erecting the exterior framing, the slate rain screen, and much of the exterior glass. Major interior work, including radiant flooring and kitchen installations, can then begin. With Phase 1 now well underway, “it all goes very fast,” Smythe says. “It’s nice to pause and appreciate all that’s been accomplished so far.”

To  support the Dining and Community Commons project, contact Brian Myers, interim director of individual giving, at or 610-957-6495.

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