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Convocation Center Reaches New Heights

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Posted on August 3, 2010

Members of the Cal U community watched as a pair of 300-ton cranes lifted two 99-foot trusses during a "topping out" ceremony for the new Convocation Center. The ceremony marked the installation of the last piece of structural steel in the building.

"Topping out" is a custom kept by ironworkers, who traditionally hoist an American flag, an evergreen tree and a broom along with the "last beam" of a bridge, skyscraper or other significant building. The tree symbolizes growth and longevity; the broom designates a "clean sweep" for the new building.

The steel truss at Cal U also carried an academic robe, men's and women's basketball jerseys, a volleyball jersey, and business attire. These items illustrate the multi-purpose nature of the Convocation Center, which will host Commencement and other academic gatherings, serve as the arena for Cal U's basketball and volleyball teams and function as an executive conferencing center.

President Angelo Armenti, Jr. signed the truss before it was raised 72 feet in the air and he thanked each of the ironworkers for their dedication and hard work on the project.

The building will house a 6,000-seat arena, the largest indoor venue between Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va. Cal U plans to host athletic tournaments, trade shows, job fairs, country music concerts and other public events in this spacious facility.

The Convocation Center is scheduled to open in Fall 2011.

View images from the "topping out" ceremony.

Watch a recap of the "topping out" ceremony below or see the unabridged version with full remarks by President Armenti


By the numbers

46 - The Convocation Center is supported by 46 trusses in all. They were made in Chemung, N.Y., near Buffalo, and trucked to the Cal u campus.

72 - The top of each truss is 72 feet off the ground, the height of a 6-story building

99 - Each half of the two-part truss is 99 feet long. When the pieces are joined, the truss will measure 198 feet.

141 - The building is supported by 141 concrete caissons, each 85 feet deep and about 3 feet in diameter. About 11,000 cubic yards of concrete have been poured below the building.

300 - Two 300-ton cranes will lift the last piece of structural steel into place.

300-400 - Between 300 and 400 laborers and skilled trades workers have had a hand in the Convocation Center project so far - and we're not done yet!