Nabholz Construction Services hosted a topping out ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first phase of construction of the new St. Bernards Health & Wellness Institute on Friday afternoon, Feb. 4. The event was held at the construction site at 1143 East Matthews Avenue.
Following a brief program that included comments from representatives of both St. Bernards and Nabholz, those in attendance watched as the last steel beam (along with a tree and a flag) was hoisted to the highest point on the superstructure of the facility. Speakers were Mark Seiter, executive vice president of operations, Nabholz Construction Services, and Chris B. Barber, president and chief executive officer of St. Bernards Healthcare.
The topping out ceremony is a kickback to a centuries-old Scandinavian tradition of placing an evergreen tree on the highest point of a shelter or home upon its completion.
In the 19th Century, as people from Northern Europe came to America, many of them worked as construction craftsmen.They brought with them not only their construction skills, but also their customs. One in particular was the topping out of new buildings with the evergreen tree, a symbol of growth which typically is said to bring good luck.
Though the meaning of the ceremony has changed some over time, Nabholz continues the tradition as a way to celebrate the completion of the most dangerous phase of construction and to symbolize thanksgiving for a safe project.
Consequently, the St. Bernards ceremony included placing the last steel beam—with an evergreen and a flag attached – atop the Health & Wellness Institute.
The beam was located in a parking area on the main St. Bernards campus during the week before the ceremony so that employees could sign it. Though it carries no structural significance, the topping-out beam will be secured as the top-most beam in the building’s superstructure.
Ground was broken for the St. Bernards Health & Wellness Institute in mid-June of 2010, and the facility is to be completed and ready for use in the fall of this year. It will be a one-of-a-kind complex that will integrate a wide variety of medically based fitness, treatment and prevention services under a single roof. It will blend a state-of-the-art fitness center with clinical departments of St. Bernards that promote health improvement, lifestyle modification and rehabilitation.
Located on the Matthews Medical Mile at 1143 East Matthews Ave., it will house a fitness center complete with an indoor aquatics center, indoor walking track, studio classrooms, cardio and weight-lifting equipment and much more. It will be staffed by specially trained exercise instructors, fitness specialists, exercise physiologists and personal trainers who will provide guidance and support for members.
Among St. Bernards clinical departments that will be located within the Institute are the Center for Weight Loss and Diabetes Management, cardiac rehabilitation, outpatient physical therapy and sports performance programs.
One of the most unique aspects of the Institute will be the fact that it will house the offices of Jonesboro Orthopaedics Sports Medicine. Drs. Brian G. Dickson, Spencer H. Guinn and Jeremy P. Swymn will occupy a 6,000-square-foot suite in the facility. (Those physicians serve as medical directors of the St. Bernards Sports Medicine program.)
The Institute, located to the west of the construction on the Arkansas State University overpass, will have ample parking, and the fitness center will be open for extended hours for member convenience. Membership presales will begin in the spring.
Nabholz Construction Services at 1815 Grant Ave. is serving as general contractor for the $15 million project. Founded in 1949, Nabholz Construction is one of the nation’s leading firms that specializes in general contracting and construction management. It is employee owned and licensed in 42 states, with offices in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.
Health & Wellness Institute project manager is Andrew Adlong, and jobsite superintendent is Clyde Hitchcock, both with Nabholz.
The facility was designed by Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative in Denver, an internationally known firm which has designed numerous health and wellness and fitness centers throughout the United States. Local architect is Brackett & Krennerich.