Blake Miller /Nevada Sagebrush Vice President of Core Construction Jim Miller (far left) poses with University President Marc Johnson (far right) at the Topping Out ceremony for the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center on Thursday, Jan. 22. The beam above them was signed by guests from the ceremony and placed in the fourth story of the structure.

Blake Miller /Nevada Sagebrush
Vice President of Core Construction Jim Miller (far left) poses with University President Marc Johnson (far right) at the Topping Out ceremony for the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center on Thursday, Jan. 22. The beam above them was signed by guests from the ceremony and placed in the fourth story of the structure.

By Maddison Cervantes

Atop a white steel beam sit three flags that signify the University of Nevada, Reno’s new William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center reaching its maximum height.

On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 22, a topping out ceremony was held for Pennington at the construction site. Along with the flags, a tree was displayed to symbolize bringing life to the building.

According to Vice President of Core Construction Jim Miller, the first phase of the construction process is underway. It began on July 7, 2014 with intentions to be complete by May 20, 2015. Pennington will be up and running for present and future members of the Wolf Pack by spring semester 2016.

During a speech given by Miller regarding the site, he introduced the beam, spoke on behalf of the construction team and explained the building’s logistical aspects. The topping out ceremony was both an expression of pride and accomplishment from the workers.

Miller made it apparent to the crowd that without the multiple hands in the construction, arriving at their current position in the process would not have been possible.

Each of the subcontractors that partnered with Core Construction and the university, such as Northern Nevada Concrete, Martin Iron Works, H+K Architects and Odyssey Engineering, were shown gratitude by Miller and the other employees of the company.

Along with these other organizations, the workers of Core Construction tip their hard hats to the university’s facilities, engineering and maintenance departments.

“It all begins with moving the dirt,” Miller said. “Reno-Tahoe Construction led the path in the very beginning, setting the stage for this wonderful building.”

Miller noted that the structure consists of over 1,161 tons of steel. The four-story building is 82 feet at its tallest point and 77,345 square feet throughout. The construction budget for Pennington was 32 million dollars.

Pennington will house nine departments, including the Disability Resource Center, the Math Center and the Writing Center. According to Director at the DRC Mary Zabel, a single location housing multiple resources offered by the university will be beneficial for all departments.

“The additional space that we will have in the new Pennington Student Achievement Center will allow us to provide a higher level of service and expand our hours of operation,” Zabel said. “I am certain that this will lead to an increase departmental collaboration that will better serve our students.”

Once Miller concluded his speech, select guests from the audience were invited to step up to the beam and make their mark in a Nevada blue Sharpie. The guests included University President Marc Johnson and Vice President of Student Life Services Jerry Marczynski.

The beam was then hoisted up to the top story of the structure, flags and tree in tact, where it will remain throughout the future of the building at UNR.

Another member of the audience was UNR Project Manager Scott Brown. Miller introduced Brown as one of the main roles behind the construction process. Brown further explained the building’s soon-to-be departments, and their goals for the future of Pennington.

“[Pennington] is going to be the central location for students to interact with the services that they need,” Brown said. “[Pennington is meant] to promote achievement, so instead of trying to figure out which building houses whichever department, they’ll tell you to just go up to the second floor.”

With these multiple resources under one roof, Brown believes that the completion of the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center will be a highly beneficial aspect of the university for all students, especially those exploring UNR for the first time.

Maddison Cervantes can be reached at mcervantes@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter         @madcervantes.