The skeleton of a building loomed with its exposed beams at Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street in Park Slope. In front of the unfinished hospital center was a white steel beam that sat on red stilts, decorated with a small evergreen tree and an American flag at either end.
But it wasn’t there for long. On Wednesday, June 13, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital managerial staff, joined by Brooklyn community leaders, celebrated the “topping out” ceremony for the hospital’s new Center for Community Health with the placement of the final and highest beam preceded by a beam-signing and raising ceremony.
The six-story, 400,000-square-foot facility is the largest ambulatory care center in Brooklyn. The center will treat cancer, diabetes and hypertension, in addition to providing a wide range of other outpatient services.
The “topping out” tradition is an ancient Scandinavian construction ritual with different spiritual meanings, since modified with the addition of the American flag in this country.
“The topping out represents a milestone for us,” said President and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Dr. Steven Corwin. “Land in New York is hard to come by. Many other parts of the country can build cheaper than we can. Being able to put this up is a tribute to the community. I know it was a difficult set of hurdles to overcome, but I think everyone will really understand the excellence that will derive from this building.”
The surrounding Park Slope community, in the early stages of development, offered serious resistance to the project because of the eight brownstones that needed to be demolished to create the space for it. An agreement was reached in 2015 that the building would be a story shorter than originally planned and include landscaping for the residential area.
Dr. Richard Liebowitz, president of NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, said, “I’m very excited, although the finished building won’t be open until 2020. It doesn’t take long for framing to move to structure.”
Despite the rainy weather, over 100 people showed up to watch either inside on the screens or outside live. Liebowitz was the first to sign the beam after the conference, then staff physicians, nurse managers, and anyone in attendance with permanent markers scribbled their signatures or congratulations.
After the beam was signed, construction workers hoisted the beam into place as the flag billowed.