A 28-foot beam weighing more than 1,000 pounds was raised into place on the new Darla Moore School of Business Monday (Feb. 4), signifying that the apex of the University of South Carolina’s most ambitious construction project has been reached.

University President Harris Pastides, members of the Board of Trustees and benefactor Darla Moore joined Moore School students, faculty and staff for a “Topping Out” ceremony to honor the construction crew as the structural or “steel” phase of the building nears completion and the enclosure phase begins. The celebration took place on the patio of the Koger Center of the Arts, across from the new building.

On the beam, signed by members of university community, was a Pindo palm tree, a symbol of growth and good fortune and reflective of one of the building’s signature features, the Palmetto Courtyard. It is often customary for iron workers to place a tree or a flag at the highest point of a structure at this stage of the construction process. A second beam, signed by Moore School students last week, was erected on the northwest side of the upper level earlier in the day.

President Pastides praised the dedication of the workers for reaching the milestone.

“Today, we mark the impending completion of the structural construction phase of the Darla Moore School of Business, Carolina’s most ambitious project to date, and take the opportunity to thank these talented iron and steel workers for their lasting contribution to the university and the Columbia community,” Pastides said. “I am proud of the approximately 1,600 jobs that have been created as a result of the construction effort and equally proud of the Net Zero rating we are pursuing. As we raise the steel beam with the Pindo palm tree, let’s all remember that the palm appropriately symbolizes growth and good fortune – something I envision for each and every student who will soon study within these walls.”

Dean Hildy Teegen conveyed the pride felt by the greater Moore School community in seeing their new future academic home take form.

“The students, faculty and staff of the Moore School are thrilled to mark this important milestone in our project– one that will enable us to teach and learn in new ways, to break down disciplinary silos and to engage ever more fruitfully with colleagues on campus and in the business and policy communities on matters critical for advancing economic development in the Palmetto state,” Teegen said.

The contractors working on the new Moore School, many of which are based in Columbia, were recognized by Jeff Lamberson, USC’s director of campus planning and construction. Gilbane Co.Cumming and Brownstone Construction Group, responsible for managing the project, are bringing the iconic designs of Rafael Viñoly Architects to life.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of such a great team of architects, engineers and builders, and we’re honored to be building such a significant project for Ms. Moore, the Darla Moore School of Business and the university,” Lamberson said.

The university began construction on the new Moore School in December 2011; the building project is on schedule for completion this December with use by faculty, staff and students beginning January 2014. Located at the corner of Assembly and Greene Streets, the building promises to transform business education at the university, serve as the front door to Innovista and usher in a new era of green building in the state.

Rafael Viñoly Architects said inspiration for the building’s design was the state tree, the Sabal Palmetto, and describes the concept as a “natural structure that appears to grow naturally out of the ground and at its heart encircles a ‘Palmetto Court.’”

Its open and flexible design is intended to foster interaction and collaboration among students and faculty in new ways, and be a hub for community engagement. A 500-seat auditorium has been designed for musical performance as well as lectures — the result of a partnership, and support from, the School of Music.

The new Darla Moore School of Business is the university’s most ambitious sustainability project to date. It is on track to become the largest LEED Platinum building in South Carolina, with the university pursuing a Net-Zero rating through a partnership between the Moore School and the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Brittany Grabski