Peabody Neighborhood Project celebrates major milestone with ‘topping out’ ceremony

Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Neighborhood project achieved a major milestone on Oct. 10 with the placement of the final steel structural beam in the new connector between the Home Economics and Mayborn buildings.

Peabody College, in partnership with Messer Construction, hosted a special “topping out” ceremony to commemorate the milestone. The event included remarks from Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development Camilla P. Benbow and Messer Construction Sr. Project Executive Mike Schneider.

“As we raise this last and highest structural beam, it is a symbol of the connectedness of the entire Peabody campus—the departments, faculty, staff and students—and a sign of looking ahead for the whole university,” Wente said. “A key factor in building trust is connectedness, and the more connections that we have between every individual on our campus and with our community, the more trust we build.This project embodies the goals of FutureVU by embracing the connectedness of Vanderbilt.”

Dating as far back as 700 A.D., topping out ceremonies mark the placement of the final or top structural beam during a construction project. As is the tradition, the Peabody College ceremony included the placement of an evergreen tree and flag on the gold-painted beam to symbolize protection for the construction crew and future occupants of the building. Members of the Peabody community also signed the beam before it was raised.

“We can now, starting today, look forward to a campus graced by these two revitalized academic buildings with the new connector,” Benbow said. “These buildings will support student learning, discovery of new knowledge and engagement with the campus and the local community that Peabody serves. All three will contribute to making Vanderbilt more vibrant and inclusive, and each of you is part of that future, too.”

When completed, the renovated buildings will feature three active learning spaces, more than a dozen other classrooms, and nine research and work rooms and laboratories. The design and construction of the renovations and new connector are guided by the FutureVU Sustainability initiative, with a goal of earning Living Building and LEED certifications.

“Peabody College’s campus has been nationally recognized over the last decade, and this project will allow the continuation of that prominence throughout the nation, not just for teaching but also setting a new standard of sustainability with being Living Building certified,” Schneider said. “Innovation and technology will propel these classrooms into the next generation and the next century.”

For more information on the Peabody Neighborhood Project, subscribe to the Peabody Neighborhood Newsletter.