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 


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.