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Steel Structure Trivia: The Topping Out Tree

Holiday trees abound this time of year, but have you ever wondered why they’re habitually perched atop of steel buildings? It’s a time-honored practice called “topping out” — when the last piece of structural steel, along with an evergreen tree and often an American flag, is placed at the highest point of a building during construction. The above photo shows the topping out of the Martin Army Community Hospital, Fort Benning, Ga., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' first-ever design-build hospital project, opened in 2014. (For more on the project, see the article "Building up the Fort") (Photo: Thornton Tomasetti)

Our December Steel Structure Trivia question is:

The practice of “topping out” is commonly said to have originated where?

a)  Australia
b)  Scandinavia
c)  Canada
d)  Pacific Northwest
e)  Michigan 

Answer:

The correct answer is b) Scandinavia. Congratulations to our winners! They are: Ranjit Singh, enterprise integration leader at Douglas Steel Fabricating Corporation, Lansing, Mich. (an AISC member and certified fabricator and erector); Derek Hoffman, detailer/designer at SWF Industrial, Inc., Wrightsville, Pa.; and Nep Viajar, civil/structural engineer at Fluor Corp., Houston.  

You can test your structural steel knowledge right here on our MSC  website on the last Friday of each month, where a new trivia question will be posted to the News section. Our next challenge will be posted in the New Year on Friday, January 26.


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