UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State students became a permanent part of the university foundation on Tuesday.
They left their mark on the HUB-Robeson Center in the form of a “topping out” ceremony, which involved signing the final two steel beams to be installed in the first-phase of the two-year expansion project.
“It’s one more mark that we leave on Penn State,” said student Mary Kate Jennings, who signed one of the beams Tuesday afternoon. “We can say, ‘Oh my name’s on that stairwell.’”
The beams will be installed in a stairwell adjoining the new meeting room area of the project behind Alumni Hall. According to a Penn State news release, the installation of the beams will take place mid-May.
“Topping out” ceremonies originated as a religious practice in Scandinavia that involved placing a tree on top of a building to honor tree-dwelling spirits of ancestors. Today, the ceremonies are meant to commemorate the completion of steelwork during construction by having those involved with the project sign the beams, the news release said.
HUB staff encouraged students to sign the beams as they passed through, as well as served cake and cookies to those who left their signatures as a part of the celebration.
“It’s really to get people excited about the project to remember that we’re opening next year,” said Mary Edginton, senior director of union and student activities.
According to Edginton, the addition where the beams will be installed will open to students in February 2015. The new area will include five new meeting rooms, a large seating area, a multipurpose performance space and a functioning “green” roof.
“That’s what students have said they really wanted to have,” said Edginton.
The project also will separate student meeting and study areas from relocated retail space, which will include a store devoted to Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon merchandise, Edginton said.
“We’re trying to build some synergy with the building,” said Edginton. “So we’re trying to put things that make sense together to build community.”
Additional features of the expansion project include a renovated food court and bookstore. The bookstore is scheduled to open its doors this October.
Sophomore student Emily Stangl also stopped by the first floor of the HUB to sign the beam.
“It’s cool that we have our mark on the new renovation. It’s going to be there for years and years to come,” said Stangl.
Students, faculty and community members can continue to leave their mark on the beams from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday in the HUB.
Raychel Shipley is a Penn State journalism student.