The topping-out ceremony for the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre took place on 16 April 2013. This milestone in the construction of the building, which celebrates the completion of its structural frame, was attended by many of those involved in the project, including architect John Tuomey of O’Donnell Tuomey, who designed the building; chairman of Osborne Andrew Osborne, lead contractors for the project; and LSE’s director of Estates, Julian Robinson.
Welcoming attendees to the event, Julian Robinson said: “The sheer scale of LSE’s ambition, O’Donnell Tuomey’s creativity and Osborne’s craftsmanship mean that I can honestly say, in my 25 years of working in development and construction, I have never commissioned a building of this architectural quality and breath-taking uniqueness.”
Andrew Osborne took the opportunity to enlighten guests about some of the history and tradition associated with the topping-out ceremony, an ancient ritual that is featured in the Bayeux Tapestry and mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s works. “The ceremony traditionally marked the reaching of the highest point of the building,” said Andrew. “It originated in Persia and was performed to ensure that no evil spirits were trapped inside the building. Today, we interpret that as a wish for the building’s safe completion and a celebration for those involved.”
Following the speeches, LSESU General Secretary Alex Peters-Day placed the final segment of concrete into the floor of the top level of the building (pictured). She did so on behalf of alumnus Professor Saw Swee Hock (PhD Statistics 1963), who made a landmark gift to the building in 2012. Professor Saw was unable to attend, but a silver trowel was presented to him in absentia to mark the occasion. He will receive it in person when he visits the School in the summer.
The iconic building, the first new building to be constructed at LSE for more than 40 years, has benefited from the support of a number of other donors, including alumni Mark Denning (BSc Economics 1980) and Aristote Mistakidis (BSc International Relations 1984), the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation.