Ceremony marks special phase in CTC construction

An unusual ceremony was held May 1 to commemorate a special phase of construction for the new Career Technology Center (CTC), which will expand City College’s campus one block south on Broadway.

The “Topping-off Ceremony” is a throwback to a 1,000-year-old Scandinavian tradition, which commemorates the placement of the highest beam of the building.

Once the highest beam is determined, an evergreen tree is attached for good luck, along with an American flag, all of which are bolted atop the CTC’s metal frame.

So, how exactly does one appropriate a 1,000-year-old Scandinavian ritual for the 21st century?

Simple. Serve tacos instead of meatballs, and hold the ligonberries.

Attendees were treated to a free Mexican-style lunch.

The hard part was finding the right tree. The tradition calls specifically for an evergreen.

Project Manager, Armando Sandoval recalled the search.

“I told my superintendent to get me a good, nice looking tree. So, he went down to Home Depot and came back with this little guy,” said Sandoval, pointing to the tree.

The good judgment of the superintendent saved Sandoval’s crew one trip to the nearest boreal forest.

“We’ve watered it a lot the last few days,” he added.

The “topping-off” event was held inside a construction yard in an adjacent lot with a perfect view of the work-in-progress.

Guest speakers highlighted the luncheon, which fed faculty, staff, students, local media and construction crew members, all who craned their necks in unison to watch the 1,200-pound steel beam being lifted mechanically into the air.

When completed, the CTC will combine brick, concrete and glass into a post-modern edifice of multi-purpose spaces and state-of-the-art sustainable features.

But the $72.5 million price tag begs the question: Will the building be more than an expensive hodge-podge of bells and whistles?

The intention behind the architect’s design was discussed by speakers at commemoration, including City College Vice President Mary Benard.

Primarily, the CTC will serve as the new home for Campus Police, as well as the Nursing, Photography, Digital Arts and Cosmetology Departments.

“During the event, some of the cosmetology students were absolutely moved. They were getting very emotional. All of their big hopes and dreams finally coming to fruition,” said Benard.

The architecture also addresses the small stuff that faces students on a day-to-day basis, such as parking.

An 11-story, 694-car parking garage is one of the many features of the new site. Priority parking will be given to carpoolers.

“The building will be green,” said Benard “and it’s going to be smart.”

The use of water-reducing plumbing fixtures will conserve 54% of the amount of water that would normally be used. Storm water will be filtered in order to cut back the pollution that flows into sewers.

The location of the building places City College closer to the East Village community, and is hailed as City’s “Gateway to East Village.”

Formerly synonymous with warehouses and empty lots, East Village is currently being reclaimed by an eclectic mix of artists, businesses, low-income high-rise residential complexes and San Diego Padre’s home field at Petco Park.

Moments before the “beam-of-honor” was lifted into its final destination, students and faculty were invited to write messages on its side.

Joe Leonard, City Times staff photographer, used that opportunity to write his name, the date and the words, “City Times Newspaper,” on the beam.

“Maybe someday, somebody will read my name and wonder, ‘Who was that guy?'” mused Leonard. “It’s like a time capsule.”

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Ceremony marks special phase in CTC construction