The practice of "topping out", or "topping off" a new building can be traced to the ancient Scandinavian religious practice of placing a tree on the top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits of their ancestors that had been displaced. The practice migrated to England with Scandinavian invaders and took root there, then on to the United States.
This afternoon, the ABS Information Commons at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy held its topping out ceremony. The event was well-attended, and some of the speakers noted the importance of the project to the Academy, and the importance of the Academy to the state:
"The ABS Info Commons stands as a model of sustainability" - Fran McDonald, VP of Operations, MMA
"What better way to train the engineers and environmentalists of tomorrow... [the ABS Info Commons] is a living laboratory that envelops our students in learning." - Fran McDonald, VP of Operations, MMA
"It's my opinion that this is the nation's finest maritime academy." - Therese Murray, Senate President, Massachusetts
Rather than the traditional tree, the Academy and W.T. Rich, the general contractor, opted for a flag gracing the top of the structure, as seen below.