MTSU Celebrates Concrete and Construction Building Progress with Topping-Out Ceremony


Workers with Hoar Construction continue making tremendous progress on the $40.1 million MTSU School of Concrete and Construction Management Building on the southwest side of campus.

University and construction officials converged on the site Tuesday, Sept. 14, for a topping-out ceremony to celebrate the daily progression being made by construction workers by signing the final beam and watching it lifted by crane to the top of the structure.

The 54,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed in 15 months, in time for Fall 2022 classes. The facility features classrooms, faculty and staff offices and laboratory space for Concrete Industry Management — one of the most exclusive programs in the nation — and Construction Management, both of which provide interns and ready-to-work graduates awaiting potentially lucrative careers.

“The disruptive effects of the past year and a half have been no match for determination of the incredible team responsible for the headway made on this state-of-the-art facility for one of our most sought-after and in-demand academic programs,” university President Sidney A. McPhee said to those gathered at the site, referencing the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelly Strong, School of Concrete and Construction director and professor, told the audience “how this is a complicated, iconic building with four different structural systems and many, many different types of concrete.

“The entire building has been designed and built to serve as a learning lab for the next generation of construction professionals. The project leadership teams have worked hard to overcome many challenges in the supply chain to keep us on budget, on schedule, with high quality and a safe work site. We appreciate their commitment to provide a showcase building for our faculty, staff and students.”

Strong offered a special thanks “to the approximately 200 skilled trade workers who have worked on this project since March, with zero lost time accidents on the job site.”

McPhee and Strong offered shout-outs to architects Orcutt Winslow, Hoar Construction and Jamie Brewer and Bill Waits from the MTSU Campus Planning staff.

The president also recognized the Concrete Industry Management National Steering Committee, CIM Patrons, generous donors, alumni and many regional employers “who have all invested in our mission of educating students in world-class academics and best practices in concrete and construction,” he said.

About 30 CIM Patrons, a local, grassroots advisory group giving time, talent and money, and dozens of others provided funding for the building.

“These organizations, individuals and many others have held a clear vision for what our students and faculty need to be best in class in this field,” McPhee added. “As a result of this strong support, this university boasts a compelling story of preparing students to fulfill workforce needs, as well as a keen ability to project and plan for future trends.”

Chris Potter, Hoar Construction project executive, called it “a very unique building that’s required a lot of coordination between us, the university design team and trade contractors. It’s going to be a really great learning facility for this program moving forward.”

Potter, who said MTSU Construction Management student Michael Urban interned during the summer, said “safety is the number one priority. Being on a college campus, student safety is always a big concern, inside the fence and out.”

The new building is among the $1.3 billion in capital construction projects at MTSU in the past 20 years.

Strong provided a history regarding topping-out ceremonies, which are “a construction industry tradition where we celebrate the placement of the final beam on a building, dating back to ancient Scandanavia,” he said.

Combined, there are 325 majors and more than 1,500 graduates in both programs.

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