MARQUETTE - As the final steel beam was bolted into place on the new Jamrich Hall being erected on Northern Michigan University's campus, even the ironworkers' general foreman was amazed.
"Do you see all those beams?" said Tommy Pavia as he pointed at the intricate connections of dozens of steel beams. "I told those guys where to put all those beams. I took a picture of it the other day and sent it to my wife and I just got a panic attack, because it just finally dawned on me how big this job was."
The new Jamrich building was Pavia's first major project as general foreman.
The final steel beam is hoisted to the top of the new Jamrich Hall Wednesday morning as part of a long-standing ironworkers tradition called a topping-off ceremony. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
As part of a more than 100-year-old tradition, the ironworkers held a topping-off ceremony Wednesday morning, when the final beam was placed on the structure.
The beam used in this ceremony was painted white, standing out in stark contrast to the red tint of each of the other beams and making the NMU, Miron Construction and Gundlach Champion logos easily visible from the ground three stories below.
After each ironworker signed the beam, as well as some members of NMU's administration, it was hoisted via crane to the very top of the building, where Senior Associate Vice President for Administration Art Gischia was ready to hammer home the first bolt.
The beam completed the framework for what will eventually become the building's clock tower.
An evergreen tree was affixed to one end of the beam, symbolizing the longevity of the building, as was an American flag at the other end.
Now that the steel skeleton is finished, crews will work to complete the shell of the building, with plans to have the structure enclosed by winter.
Jim Thams, NMU associate director of engineering and planning, said the project is moving along on schedule.
In the next few weeks, Thams said crews will finish laying the cement blocks and begin laying brick.
Work will also continue inside the structure, setting up electrical wiring and duct work before walls are put up.
On Wednesday, some of the framing work was clearly visible in the north side of the building and skeletons of offices and classrooms were beginning to take shape.
"Construction has been going very well," Thams said. "There has been no real hiccups on the job, no delays in terms of material delivery or work production. It's all been going very well. We're on target to open next July."
Thams said there are currently 95 workers on site, with plans to increase to 120 at the peak of construction.
The building is slated for completion by next summer, at which time the original Jamrich Hall will be razed.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.