(TNS) — The importance of historic tradition and future innovations were both center stage at Tuesday’s topping-off ceremony at the construction site of the University of Connecticut’s future Innovation Partnership Building.
Project manager Skanska USA has been involved in the construction of the $132 million, 115,000- square- foot, multi- level facility, the first building that will open in the university’s new 300-acre technology park.
Al Gogolin, senior vice president of Skanska USA, told those in attendance that topping- off ceremonies are an old Scandinavian tradition, which originally honored the “spirits” of trees cleared for the construction of a building.
“We are here to celebrate what’s to happen going forward. Skanska is proud of that,” Gogolin said.
UConn officials said the topping-off ceremony signifies the completion of the structural phase of the building, which originally broke ground in October 2015 and is expected to have its ribbon cutting in summer 2017.
Festivities included raising of the American flag and an evergreen tree above the top steel beam, in addition to the unveiling of a beam with the UConn logo and a number of signatures of construction workers, university officials and legislators.
The Innovation Partnership Building will feature flexible-use laboratories, along with tenant labs for several corporations including United Technologies Corp., General Electric, Comcast, Pratt & Whitney, Eversource Energy and Fraunhofer Inc.
Additionally, it will house one of the most advanced microscopy centers in the country as part of a partnership with worldwide scientific instrument maker, FEI Co.
The facility will allow these corporations to access more than $40 million in high-end research equipment.
Specifically, it is expected the facility will allow scientists to develop technology in fields such as flexible electronics, materials science, additive manufacturing, cyber security and energy.
It will create partnerships between academic researchers, business entrepreneurs and private industry scientists to develop innovative technologies expected to create high-paying jobs to benefit the state’s economy.
Those in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony included project engineers, union workers, legislators, university officials and media representatives.
“This is a transformational undertaking for UConn — so many people deserve thanks,” said UConn President Susan Herbst.
“At the core, this building is about innovation. Our vision is to use this as the front porch for industry partnership and innovation. Connecticut will be looked upon by most of the country as a place of innovation,” said Mun Choi, UConn provost.
On a sunny day when temperatures exceeded 80 degrees, state Rep. Gregory Haddad, DMansfield, told the many workers in attendance wearing reflective yellow vests, “you have hot days ahead, but we know your work won’t suffer. The type of progress you are making here is what we need to see from each individual from the university.”
Haddad is a 1989 UConn graduate with a degree in physics.
Also on hand was former state Senate president Donald E. Williams Jr., who worked extensively in support of UConn’s technology park.
Williams, a veteran Democrat, retired from the legislature in 2014, being replaced by state Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Danielson.
The Innovation Partnership Building is located on Discovery Drive, on UConn’s North Campus, across from Charter Oak Apartments, and is not far from the junction of routes 44 and 195.
Discovery Drive was formerly known as North Hillside Road.
©2016 The Chronicle (Willimantic, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.