Written by Clare Isabel Ee | Image by Bob Lee
On 10 March 2014, members of the Yale-NUS College community and SsangYong Engineering & Construction Co Ltd donned hard hats and celebrated an important milestone atop the new Residential College 2 (RC2) – the Topping Out Ceremony, attended by a small group of Yale-NUS Governing Board members, College staff and students.
The ceremony was a sign of the exciting times ahead for the College, with the new campus on the road to being fully completed by early-2015.
“This is a very important milestone not just for Yale-NUS College, but also for higher education in Asia. It marks a further step for Yale-NUS towards achieving our goal to bring the best undergraduate education to students in Asia and around the world”, Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis shared in his opening remarks.
He added, “I have quite a clear view of the new campus from the bedroom of my current apartment, and it never fails to amaze me every single day how fast the construction is coming along.”
Amazement at the speed at which the buildings seemed to have sprouted from the ground was a common sentiment among the guests.
“This time two years ago, the campus barely started construction and we had no faculty,” said Rector Brian McAdoo. “This time last year, as the construction progressed, we had acquired a faculty, but no students. This year, as the buildings are being topped off, we have an extraordinarily vibrant community of faculty, staff and students. This time next year, we’ll be moved in, and endless possibilities await us!”
The practice of ‘topping out’ new buildings is a tradition carried out at many new sites to signify the completion of the new building’s structure. The Guests-of-Honour symbolically complete the final structural element – in this case, one final formwork that was left undone on the 24th floor of the new RC2.
The eight Guests-of-Honour, led by Yale-NUS College Governing Board Chairperson, Mdm Kay Kuok, picked up golden shovels and poured cement into the formwork, amidst applause and cheers from the gathered community.
“I like the symbolism of it all,” said Professor Jane Jacobs, Divisional Director (Social Sciences), who braved her fear of heights to witness the event. “I think the built campus – because it is so well designed – will be the final ingredient in the making of our college. Great architecture can really bring out the best in its users, and this is a wonderful campus unlike anything else in Singapore and likely elsewhere.”
In the minutes after the shovelling was done, President Lewis, President Peter Salovey from Yale University, and President Tan Chorh Chuan from the National University of Singapore, came together to pop a bottle of celebratory champagne – each somehow unable to accomplish it on his own.
The student representatives who were present found this unplanned moment even more symbolic and representative of the College’s foundation.
As one student, Rosario Carmen Guitan Denia (Class of 2017), remarked, “It was a really good example of how we’re stronger and we will be able to achieve more when we bring together great things from our different institutions!”