Cheers! - Topping Out Ceremony at the Zollverein School

200FJ20060215D2617.jpg“When in Rome do as the Romans do …” – today I was wondering how and if “Builder’s rites” are being celebrated across the world? This is what I have found at Wikipedia (which seems to become one of my top information sites these days) under the keyword “topping out”:

“Topping out is a ceremony done when the erection of the skin and roof of a building is completed. Its origins are obscure and is common in Germany and America. In America, when a sky scraper was completed the last girder to be hoisted was painted white and signed by all the workmen involved. A leafy tree branch and the US flag were tied to it. Toasts were drunk and sometimes the workmen were treated to a meal. In other buildings the ceremony focussed on the bedding of the last block of masonry or brick. The ceremony is akin to the practice of placing a newspaper, coins etc under the foundation stone of a building.

It is similar to ship naming and launching ceremonies, is probably of similar antiquity, and was perhaps done to placate the Gods, and shield the building from harm.”

A similar ceremony has been celebrated at the new Zollverein School of management and design building yesterday in Essen/Germany. While I couldn’t attend the ceremony physically (blame it on the flu) professional photographer Thomas Mayer documented the event extensively. You can see some shots he’s made on the right hand Flickr-badge I’ve installed on this blog as well as on his photo website.

Many officials attended among them Dr. Wolfgang Reiniger, the Major of the City of Essen, Prof. Ralph Bruder, the President of the Zollverein School as well as members of the Advisory Board like Klaus Jürgen Maack (MP3 statement, 2,9 MB), Former President of ERCO and finally representatives of the architectural planning team SANAA/Böll.

While there are clearly some great design schools around the world with great buildings as well (I still remember my Art Center College visit in Pasadena/CA) I think the Zollverein School building will become one of the most stimulating places to learn about the intersection of design, management and business. Only four months to go …

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