Students, staff, coaches, politicians and other onlookers gathered at the construction site for the “topping out” ceremony at the Alaska Airlines Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage on Friday. Now, the final piece of steel for the structure has been hoisted into place.
For months, those driving though the U-Med district in Anchorage have probably noticed the arena taking shape. Now, another stage of the construction is complete.
Before the ceremony, workers installed the final piece to make sure everything fit correctly, but before the “topping out” became official, a piece of ironworker tradition needed to take place.
“We always elect one piece, we pull it back down so we can sign it and put it back up,” Mark Palmatier, senior project manager with Cornerstone Construction, said. “It’s just more of a tradition than anything else.”
He says that even though the basic building structure is complete, there is still a lot left to do. Things ranging from basic infrastructure, like lighting, plumbing, and electrical work, to finishing touches like the seating and scoreboards.
The construction is budgeted to cost around $86 million. So far, about $35 million worth of it is done.
For those who pass by the building site, the next major exterior construction process will be installing a special zinc siding, which Palmatier says Alaska hasn’t seen before.
“It’s kind of silver, it’s kind of like an unfinished aircraft or something. That’s what it’s gonna look like. Kind of like an unfinished aircraft, it’s gonna look really nice. And if it got scratches, it kind of heals itself over time, so it’s kind of a neat siding to put up. It’s extremely durable, and it’s gonna look really good,” he said.
Palmatier says despite all the work left to do, he is still anticipating an on-time opening in August 2014.
The new arena will house at least some of the facilities for all of UAA’s sports. The hockey team will continue to play games at the Sullivan Arena and practice at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, but most of their off-ice training facilities will be in the new sports center.