Photo Information

U.S. Navy Capt. James Brown, commanding officer, OICC Florence, places a sticker on the final beam to be put in place during a topping out ceremony on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 14, 2023. The topping out ceremony is a tradition in which the tallest and last beam is placed on a project. This project, P1513, the new Regional Legal Services-East building, is being built using the funds granted to Camp Lejeune to restore building damaged by Hurricane Florence. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Jack H. Gnosca)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Gnosca

New Legal Services building receives special beam commemorating construction milestone

14 Jun 2023 | Ashley Snipes Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Members of Officer in Charge of Construction Florence attended a “Topping Out” ceremony on June 14, 2023 for the future Regional Legal Services Support building on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Contractor of record, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, hosted the event for Navy and Marine Corps representatives to gather at the site and sign the final roof beam before it was placed at the top of the new structure. The tradition of topping out a building goes back hundreds of years, and was a means to either bring luck or ward off evil spirits for the new occupants. The original tradition morphed from placing a branch atop the highest part of the building to securing the final steel beam when steel became the dominate material.

“Topping out is a significant milestone, since the building finally begins to look like a building,” said Maggie Rodriguez, construction manager for the project. “It is also a great chance to get the contractor, government team, subcontractors, and client together for a celebration of the progress made. People can put faces to the names they typically only see in emails and talk about the project.”

Along with celebrating the construction benchmark, the entire team was able to reflect proudly on current successes they have achieved due to applying lessons learned from other projects in the package. Rodriguez looked at delays encountered in other projects within the package and saw a window of opportunity to capitalize on so [the project] didn’t have the same challenges.

“Submittals for mechanical equipment were submitted and approved early so that long equipment lead times would not impact the beneficial occupancy date (BOD),” said Rodriguez.

Ralph Fourquet, engineering technician, also saw an opportunity for the new multi-story, 20,000 square ft facility.

“One of the major lessons learned was to get our crane plan in early to avoid delay in our steel erection,” said Fourquet.

The forethought has allowed the entire team to stay on plan with the $24.3M Design-Build structure.

“Each benchmark achieved on any project is commendable, but only a handful are truly unique and cause for celebration,” said Navy Capt. James “Jim” Brown, PE, PMP, CEM, commanding officer, OICC Florence. “Topping out [this building] was very special because leadership from Regional Legal Services – East were out there learning about what they see occurring outside their window every day. And for the crew on site, meeting the customer helps drive home the significance of the mission: restoring full capabilities to the Marines of Eastern North Carolina.”

OICC Florence provides world-class engineering, construction, and acquisition services supporting the Marine Corps’ recovery from Hurricane Florence and deployment of the Joint Strike Fighter, re-establishing the readiness of expeditionary forces for MCIEAST and II Marine Expeditionary Force.

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