History of “topping out” during building construction
Tenn. (June 16, 2004) – “Topping out the Aquarium’s
structure is an important and visible milestone for this project,”
said Roger Conley, project manager of Turner Universal Construction
Company. “We’re on schedule for completion and within
budget. We can attribute our success to the talented tradesmen
and women in Chattanooga. These individuals are out there everyday,
in all conditions. Many of them even helped build the original
According to ancient history, the success or failure of man’s
building ventures was usually attributed to the gods he worshipped
rather than to the skill of the builder. To appease the spirits,
sacrifices were offered by builders to exorcise the evil spirits
who might have taken residence in the building’s framework
A.D. 700, the practice in the Scandinavian countries was for
all the neighbors to aid in the construction work up to and
including the installation of a building’s ridgepole.
When the ridgepole was finally in place, an evergreen tree was
attached to it as a signal for the beginning of a completion
party. This practice is believed to be descended from the ancient
belief in the benign influence of the tree-inhabiting spirits.
times, it was customary to fasten a sheaf of corn to the gable.
The corn was believed to serve as food for Woden’s horse
and as a charm against lightning. In more recent times, garlands
of flowers or sheaves of corn were duplicated in wood, stone
or terra cotta on Gothic buildings. Such agrarian decoration
is perhaps a survival of the ancient custom.
when the structural steel framework of a building is near completion,
a tree or often a flag is hoisted to the top of the structure.
Ironworkers who, of course, deny they are superstitious, say
it brings good luck.
topping out ceremony for the Tennessee Aquarium’s Ocean
Journey building will include a tropical tree that will serve
as a symbol of good luck, heralding the living collection of
fish, turtles, birds, plants and trees that will thrive, fly
and dive beneath the two new peaks of the Ocean Journey building.
Turner Corporation, through Turner Construction Company, Turner
Universal and other construction subsidiaries, is the leading
general builder in the U.S., ranking first or second in the
major segments of the building construction field. During 2003,
The Turner Corporation, based in Dallas, Tex., completed $6.1
billion of construction. Turner is the only builder offering
clients a network of 45 offices across the U.S. For more information,
visit Turner's Web site at www.turnerconstruction.com.