Final beam raised and set in place


Jessica Guerrucci Editor-in-Chief

The last beam for the steel structure of the future Health and Human Services building was placed with a tree on topa nod to “sturdy and lasting craftmanship” and a symbol of good luck.

“The topping of a steel and concrete building with a tree is a contractors tradition begun years ago by Scandinavians who believed their Gods lived in trees,” said President Joe Bertolino. “In those days, everything was built with wood and the builders believed they had to appease the Gods whose trees they fell for construction.”

The final beam was signed by several members of the university including President Bertolino, Sandra Bulmer, Dean of Health and Human Services, Robert Prezant, the provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Tracy Tyree, and many others.

The 94,000 square foot building broke ground last March and is set to open in December 2021. It will be four stories with simulation labs, learning labs and a standardized patient center, all which encourage hands-on learning.

The “topping” event took place outside the construction site on Oct. 23, between Pelz Gymnasium and Jennings Hall, something Bertolino said was symbolic since the new building will be connected to Pelz.

“Our past, our history, our values, what we stand for, shapes who we are, and shapes our students,” Bertolino said. “So, from my perspective, this is symbolic of a bridge connecting our past to our future.”

Bulmer said the new building is going to be special for two reasons one, that it will be a space for all the disciplines from the College of Health and Human services to come together and two, that it was designed to be a good practice-based learning space.

“Right now, our disciplines are spread out in eight different buildings across the campus,” she said. “This building will allow us to come together to have conversations, to build relationships, and to create, innovate and design new interprofessional programs that will benefit our students for many generations to come.”

Bringing everyone together and placing the final beam and signing it was a way to mark the moment and to pause and see the progress made so far, according to Bulmer.

When it is complete, Bulmer said she’s looking forward to the hands-on learning that will help them be successful in the future.

Prezant said students are going to have remarkable opportunities opening up in the new “state of the art” building. He said it will induce and promote a new type of learning and it is exciting to think about the opportunities ressiding within what is currently just a steel structure.

“The timing is going to be perfect,” he said.

Prezant said. “We’re going to get into that building when the pandemic is vanished, hopefully, and it will enliven an already incredibly active part of the campus.”

One of the architects from “Svigals & Partners”, Bob Skolozdra, said the process started three years ago and was contracted in 2016, which involved ensuring it’s a program they can afford and then going through various design phases.

He said the project is both on schedule and on budget. To to see everyone gathered to place the final beam at the ceremony was exciting, he added.

“This project is going really smooth for construction,” Skolozdra said. “We have a great design team, construction manager, we have a lot of different people involved as well as obviously the state and the college.”

Eric Lessne, the Interim Associate Vice President of Capital Budgeting and Facilities Operations said he’s been on the project since the very beginning and has been involved in the selection of the architects and the initiation of the project.

He said he’s gone through the programming, floor plans and elevations to make sure it meets the needs of the College of Health and Human Services.

When complete, he said he is most excited to see the look on students’ faces.

“That’s my biggest kick,” Lessne said. “To see students coming and going this is fantastic. It’s with every building I’ve been involved with since I started construction, just to see the end user getting to use the facility, I love that.”

Photo credit: Jessica Guerrucci

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