‘Topping Out’ ceremony on the Whitworth’s new building

25 11 2013

'Topping Out' ceremony on the Whitworth's new building

Almost one year on from our contractors ISG arriving on site at the Whitworth Art Gallery, we celebrated on Friday 22 November with a ‘Topping Out’ ceremony up on the roof.

The practice of “topping out” appears to have originated from religious practices in Scandinavia where displaced tree-dwelling spirits were appeased by placing a tree on the top of a new building. Today the idea of placing an evergreen tree or branch on the roof symbolises growth and brings luck – it also marks a milestone in a building’s construction as the highest point of the building is completed or the roof is finished; sometimes flags are hoisted or bricks laid instead and the occasion provides a good photo opportunity and press coverage.

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The Whitworth took advantage of this moment in the construction process, not only to celebrate progress on site to date, but to gather together staff from the Gallery and University, Friends of the Whitworth and Whitworth Park, members of the design team and construction team, alongside key staff from our major funders the Heritage Lottery Fund who were visiting Manchester. Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the HLF tweeted later: …”terrific day in Manchester. Buzzing from visits to Central Library and Whitworth Art Gallery. Such confidence and vision…2014 going to be an amazing year for Manchester”.

A brick engraved ‘With love, W’ was expertly laid by the Gallery Director, Dr Maria Balshaw; visitors were able to tour the site, and, as it was midday on a building site, a non-alcoholic toast was raised to a splendid future for the Gallery once it reopens to the public in September 2014.

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