Gateway “Tops Out”
(1/20/2011) (from New Haven Independent)
by Allan Appel
It was the 4,521st piece of steel (more or less)—and the final girder placed in Gateway Community College’s fast-materializing $198 million new downtown campus. “The day has come,” Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick wrote on the beam. “We’ve finally arrived.”
Then the beam bearing what appeared to be an unused Christmas tree – the greenery symbolizing growth and good luck – was raised high above Church Street.
It was then swung over on long cables to iron workers John Kassey and Joe Pena some 100 feet aloft who bolted it in place.
That was the scene at Church and Crown streets Thursday at the “topping out” ceremony for the fast-rising downtown campus. The traditional ceremony marks the symbolic completion of a building’s steel skeleton, now ready for the outer skin.
More than 100 faculty, staff, and officials, most wearing hard hats of Dimeo Construction, signed their names and participated in the traditional ceremony Thursday morning at the construction site.
(Click here and here to read previous stories about the project.)
With the skeleton completed, the giant crane will be removed and passersby will soon see the next stage in the construction of the school with its cafeteria, library, 90 classrooms, street level culinary arts center, and 22 computer labs among other facilities spread over its four levels and 360,000 square feet. Gateway is combining its Long Wharf and North Haven branches in the new downtown location.
For Gateway academic Dean Mark Kosinski (pictured), the ceremony bringing the 2012 opening of the school closer was quietly poignant.
“This is transformational for the college and New Haven community,” said Kosinski, who has been at the dean’s desk for five years.
The state-of-the art resources will give his students a strong, new professional identify. And you can’t beat the location.
“It’s in the historic Nine Squares of the city and near to Yale,” he said.
He was asked what that means for Gateway and for community colleges in general, which are fast growing and supplying, as speaker after speaker noted, the workforces of the future. “It means,” said Kosinski, “it’s our time.”
For student body treasurer Kimberly Grant (upper right in photo) and her friends (counter-clockwise) Quaynesha Flowers, Doreen Danso, and Jodi Casello, the occasion was also plain fun.
Before President Kendrick signed the beam, these students took blue Sharpies and written sentiments for the centuries.
“Have fun in the new building,” Grant wrote. Danso elaborated on that theme. “Have fun,” she wrote, “because I’ve had a blast at Gateway.”
Flowers, who plans to graduate the year the new building opens and move on to nursing school, was a bit more subdued. She simply signed her name and added the date.
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