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Topping Out

Hundreds turn out to leave their mark on new chemistry building

Almost a year after the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Florida’s new chemistry/chemical biology at the corner of University Avenue and Buckman Drive, hundreds gathered to leave their signature on a one-ton beam that will be placed on the tallest portion of the building.

Skanska, the development company building the facility, and UF sponsored a beam signing and topping-out ceremony on the construction site on Friday.

“Topping out is an interesting tradition in construction and generally relates to installing the last and highest beam in the building,” said UF’s Frank Javaheri, senior project manager for the building. “It is a mini goal within the major goal and a reminder that this portion of the milestone is completed.”

Guests, including workers, faculty and staff, students and alumni, also signed two columns on the ground floor.


two people sign a beam while others look on
Attendees wait their turn to sign a beam
line of people entering the beam-signing ceremony
The line grows.


Alumnus Jorge Quintana was among those who signed the beam and columns. “I hope my children will someday attend UF, and I’ll be able to say I’ve literally left my mark on the university,” he said.

When completed next June, the $67 million facility will provide 110,493 square feet of space for undergraduate and graduate education, including an entire floor devoted to chemical biology and chemical synthesis.


people hold orange and blue permanent markers as they prepare to sign a beam
People were happy to leave their mark on the beam.
men in hard hats and two women sign the beam
Skanska workers join UF students and faculty in signing a beam.
a group of men signing the beam
L to R, Robert Kincart ’72, Mike Lee ’85, PhD ’87, Dr. Howard Sheridan ’65 and Professor of Chemistry Rick Yost sign their “Albert Alligator” to the highest beam of the new Chemistry/Chemical Biology Building.Hannah Pietrick


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean David Richardson said he is having the best year of his 30-year career at UF, largely because of this new construction. Richardson, a chemistry professor, has long advocated for a state-of-the-art building to replace the outdated and outmoded facilities. He thanked the workers at the ceremony, saying, “Thousands of students will pass through these halls that you have worked so hard to build. Where you are sitting now will become a major hub for research, learning and innovation at the University of Florida.”

See on UF News.