A milestone in the construction of UConn’s newest residence hall was marked on Monday with a topping-out ceremony.
As the first project begun under the auspices of the Next Generation Connecticut initiative, the event signified a milestone for the state as well. Known as the STEM Residence Hall for planning purposes, the building will be called “NextGen Hall” when it opens.
The $79 million, 210,000 square-foot building is being constructed according to LEED silver certification standards, and is slated for completion by summer 2016. Plans for the residence hall include creation of a new learning community for students pursuing majors in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“Anywhere you go in higher education, you’re likely to hear people talking about those so-called ‘STEM’ disciplines,” said University President Susan Herbst. “This project is proof that at UConn, we’re doing more than just talking.”
Topping-out, or ‘topping-off,’ is a builders’ tradition held when the last beam is put in place during construction. In the week leading up to the event, all project subcontractors were invited to sign the building’s last two precast planks. University officials and KBE leaders added their signatures during the ceremony.
The final two planks were hoisted together with an American flag to symbolize pride and and a live potted tree as a metaphor for the building coming to life. Traditionally an evergreen, the tree selected for this occasion was an oak – a nod to the state tree, which is also represented in the University’s seal containing an oak leaf. The tree will be worked into the building landscaping.
The Next Generation Connecticut (Next Gen) initiative is designed to greatly expand educational opportunities, research, and innovation in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines at the University during the next decade, with the overall goal of creating an infrastructure that supports Connecticut’s most important industries, including high-tech manufacturing.
One of the most ambitious state investments in economic development, higher education, and research in the nation, Next Gen will transform the University into a top public research institution that fuels Connecticut’s economy through new technologies, highly skilled graduates, and the creation of high-wage jobs.