USC alumni group holds 'topping' for new center - - Columbia, South Carolina

USC alumni group holds 'topping' for new center

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - An 18-foot, 500-pound beam is being placed at the top of the new, privately funded University of South Carolina Alumni Center in a special ceremony in downtown Columbia.

The celebration of the completed framing for the building was Thursday morning with remarks by President Harris Pastides, My Carolina Executive Director Jack Claypoole and My Carolina Alumni Association President Paula Harper Bethea.

A replica of Cocky, the USC mascot, was atop the beam bearing the signatures of hundreds of alumni.

The raising of the beam was part of a Topping Off ceremony to signify the completion of the structural or "steel" phase of the center. A small cedar tree, symbolizing strength and good fortune, was placed on the beam as is customary for iron workers to do when the highest point of construction is reached.

"A topping off ceremony is much like a commencement ceremony: it marks the end of a period of intensive work and the beginning of the next exciting phase," Pastides said.

"Today, as we place the final 500-pound structural beam, we begin the next phase — creating an interior that transforms a skeletal structure into a warm and inviting home for the USC Alumni Association. The center will be a glorious bridge between the Vista and campus, and provide a connecting point for alumni and USC students worldwide."

The $26 million center is the first permanent home for the alumni association and is slated to open next summer. It will include a ballroom, conference spaces and an outdoor patio.

"As alumni, we are honored to bring this facility to life in service to our university's students and nearly 280,000 living alumni. This privately funded effort will give us a home that welcomes alumni and supports students while also adding to the great conference and hospitality offerings in the Midlands," My Carolina Executive Director Jack Claypoole said.

the Alumni Center with its 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space will serve as the nexus for those activities as well as a venue for a variety of events, ranging from meetings to weddings. 

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