With area lawmakers and other friends on hand, Turner Construction Co. celebrated a milestone Jan. 11 for the $147 million MTSU Science Building with a special “topping out” ceremony.
Turner team members set a signed steel beam, with MTSU and Turner logos on opposite ends, atop the 250,000-plus gross square foot facility, which is scheduled to open in early 2015.
State Sens. Bill Ketron and Jim Tracy joined state Reps. Joe Carr, Mike Sparks, Rick Womick and Dawn White at the event. Ketron, Carr, White and Burgess are MTSU alumni.
Alumnus John Hood, a staunch Science Building ally during his service in the state House of Representatives, also attended. Hood is now MTSU’s director of governmental and community affairs.
“Just look how much work has been done in such a short period of time,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said. “Today, as the last piece of steel is placed on the highest point of this structure, we move closer to our goal of having this facility ready for students by the spring of 2015.”
“Once completed, this sorely-needed structure will give our university a world-class teaching and research facility that will be not only the best in the state of Tennessee, but also in the top tier among universities across the nation,” McPhee added.
“It will demonstrate our commitment to providing more science and technology graduates to bolster the economy of our region and state.”
McPhee praised Turner Construction “on their achievements, which we can all see for ourselves today.”
“We are proud to be a part of the team and we look forward to a successful project — and many more — with MTSU,” said Turner senior project manager Kevin Overton.
Turner project executive Steve Kazay said the building is a total embodiment of a team effort.
“The team on the project — MTSU, TBR, the design team, Turner and our subcontractors — all are working incredibly well together,” Kazay said. “How those teams came together has been exceptional.”
John Gromos, Turner vice president and general manager, also announced that $2,000 scholarships will be awarded each semester to a science student and a building science or concrete industry management student. A third student may receive a scholarship at McPhee’s discretion.
Gromos noted that 15 MTSU alumni work at Turner and the company plans to hire two more. Student interns from the university’s Concrete Industry Management Program are assisting Turner staff on the science building project.
Dodging rain showers in the spring-like 68-degree temperature, more than 300 people attended the ceremony near the project site on the south side of campus.
Also attending were joint venture designers Thomas Miller & Partners LLC/Hastings Architecture Associates and the university’s first-year science trio: Dr. Bud Fischer, dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, and Dr. Lynn Boyd and Dr. Greg Van Patten, chairs of the biology and chemistry departments.
Turner Construction treated attendees to an outdoor barbecue buffet and recognized the Rutherford County Emergency Food Bank by asking attendees to bring nonperishable food items. The company also presented service awards to on-site workers.
MTSU broke ground on the facility May 3, 2012. As of Jan. 9, the project includes 62,000 work hours, 2,950 cubic yards of concrete, 200,000 square feet of decking and 1,750 tons of steel. Gromos said the project has lost no work hours for accidents.
For construction updates on the science building, visit mtsunews.com/sciencebuilding/constructionupdates. There’s also a fact sheet with more details about the facility at http://mtsunews.com/sciencebuilding, and you can watch a brief video from the event below.
“We’ve had great achievements to this point, but we have a long way to go,” Gromos said. “This is a hugely important project. Our challenge is to keep our focus and our staff safe. We want to make sure we finish strong.”
— Randy Weiler (firstname.lastname@example.org)