Secchia Center is 'topped'

November 3, 2008
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Michigan State University College of Human Medicine held its “topping off” ceremony Wednesday, as Larry the crane operator hoisted the last steel beam in place atop the Secchia Center, the med school’s future home.

Construction workers have put in 65,000 man hours on the project to date and can claim a zero-injury safety record to boot. 

Larry Huntoon, steel erection superintendent of SCI/Steelcon of Kalamazoo, said safety has been paramount to the project.

“Working in such close proximity to the general public is a huge challenge,” Huntoon said. “You’re stacked up and working close together with other workers.”

It’s safety first, agreed John Wardell, raising gang foreman for Steelcon.

“Everybody is going to go home every night and know they’ve done a good job,” Wardell said. “The structure is four stories already: Getting all the construction materials off the ground and up to the deck is a challenge.” 

As with any construction project, scheduling and getting tasks done on time is vital, said Kevin Kessler, senior product professional for NTH Consultants Ltd., which is providing special inspections and construction material testing on the project. Despite all the challenges, the construction crew has maintained a good schedule, he said. One of the challenges is just building downtown.

“There are restricted areas and parking, there are a lot of materials that go into the building and there are concrete trucks,” Kessler said. “It takes a lot of coordination to make sure everything doesn’t come in all at once.”

Huntoon, Wardell and Kessler all take pride in the project. As Kessler puts it: “It’s really nice to drive by this building and to be able to say I was part of it — that I personally know how that building was built.”

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