The Texas A&M University System commemorated the structural "topping out" of its first building at the RELLIS Academic Complex on Wednesday with guests, members of the various construction crews who worked on the project and Texas A&M System and Blinn College officials.
The "topping out" ceremony, a construction tradition that celebrates the installation of the highest or last piece of steel, featured a free barbecue lunch for the guests and hardworking crews at the mostly completed structure.
"We have put in a lot of hard work over the past seven months. I wanted to start with just a few fun facts of what we've accomplished so far before I thank everyone for their hard work," said Trent Carney, project superintendent with Hensel Phelps, during the ceremony. "From our notice to proceed on March 1st, we have worked just under 50,000 man hours, and we have done that without any accidents or injuries. We have poured or placed around 25,000 yards of concrete and grout to get our foundation and structure built. We have hung 500 tons of steel. Per our original baseline schedule that we submitted at the beginning the job, we have finished our auger pass piles two weeks early, which is huge; we finished our slab on grade, which we are standing on, one day early; we topped out our structural steel one week early; we did all of this with 11 documented weather days; and we did all of this without anyone getting hurt. Good job."
The 67,000-square-foot facility located next to the Blinn Academic Building will feature more than 40 faculty offices, 10 classrooms, group learning and collaboration spaces, modern allied health teaching laboratories and upper-division science laboratories and will house 2,500 students. Construction on the $42 million building is expected to wrap up by June 2019.
"Students will come here after two years at a community college, and they'll be able to get degrees from Texas A&M-Corpus [Christi], Texas A&M-Kingsville [and] Tarleton State University in everything from engineering to criminal justice to business to nursing," Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said. "It's a concept that does not exist anywhere else in the country, but it saves the students a heck of a lot of money and inconvenience because they don't have to uproot themselves and go somewhere else.
"There isn't any other place that offers you a chance to choose between 10 universities programs to get your college bachelor's degree."