The Wood River Community YMCA is celebrating another threshold during construction of its new 90,000-square-foot facility in Ketchum. The Idaho Steel Erectors flew steel on Tuesday, March 6, at 3 p.m. and had a "topping out" ceremony to mark installation of the highest point on the new building.
The tradition of "topping out" predates the American structural steel industry by hundreds of years, and it can be traced to northern Europe.
"Topping out" signifies that the project has reached its maximum height but may not yet be completed—a climax before the resolution, in literary terms.
"The importance of the iron workers is that they are the first ones to occupy the highest point of the building, similar to a mountain climber being the first to summit an unclimbed peak," said Evan Lawler, project engineer for Okland Construction. "Generally 'topping out' ceremonies include a flag, a banner from the steel erection company or local union. All the iron workers sign the highest beam."
Evan said that is true for the Y's construction team as well.
"The Idaho Steel Erectors' banner is hanging; the American flag is at the very top; and all of the crew members signed the beams prior to the installation."
The term "flying steel" is common construction slang for when cranes raise steel high in the air. The crane used to raise the steel for the YMCA was the largest in operation in downtown Ketchum this season. It has now been moved to another job site.
The peak of the partially-built building is 45 feet, 6 inches above the main entry floor, and it sits at an elevation of 5,860 feet, Evan said.
The YMCA is continuing to host coffee talks with free refreshments every Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Visitors can see a bird's eye view of the construction site from the current YMCA offices at 105 Lewis Street, and to view a video of the architects' plans for the new facilities.