In the construction industry, workers sign the last steel beam before it’s bolted into place, completing the structural steel framework of a building. That construction milestone is traditionally celebrated with what’s known in the construction trades as a “topping out” ceremony.
At Brookhaven National Laboratory on October 13, 2010, construction workers, Brookhaven and DOE officials, invited guests, and Lab staff signed the final beam to close the ring building of the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), under construction since 2009. Those signatures — about 300 in all — will be visible to everyone who passes through the NSLS-II lobby, where the steel beam will be permanently installed.
“These hardworking men and women have approached this job with skill and passion and have left their mark on the Laboratory in many ways, not only on the actual physical construction, but … the countless experiments and discoveries that are going to flow from it,” said Laboratory Director Sam Aronson. “It all starts right here with the construction of this magnificent building.”
In addition to Aronson, those sharing the stage and speaking at the podium were:
NSLS-II is the largest science project in the Department of Energy (DOE) complex nationwide. This $912-million facility will be the world's most advanced synchrotron light source, providing sophisticated, new tools for science that will enhance national and energy security and help drive abundant, safe, and clean energy technologies.
“We have watched with pride and wonder as the construction workers built this building,” Dierker said. “We have been motivated by a shared belief that the world-leading capabilities of NSLS-II are essential in order to tackle some of the most importance scientific challenges of our time. The research programs at NSLS-II will touch almost every area of science and technology that is critical to our economic and energy security as well as to enhancing our quality of life.”
During its construction, managed by Torcon, the prime contractor, NSLS-II is expected to create more than 1,250 construction jobs and 450 scientific, engineering and support jobs, plus additional jobs at U.S. material suppliers and service providers.
“It is so great to be part of an endeavor that is creating jobs,” said LaValle, adding that NSLS-II is a great example of growing New York State’s intellectual capital by forming partnerships with institutions from around the world.
Thanks in part to $150 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the project is on track to be completed more than a year ahead of schedule.
“I still consider it my baby, I still talk of it that way,” said Dehmer about NSLS-II. “But when I stand here today, I realize it is now a gangly adolescent and very soon it will be a full-grown adult.”
“NSLS-II is a testament to the innovation that happens right here on Long Island,” Alessi said.
The day’s celebration also included the dedication of a cornerstone at the Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB), where construction recently started.
The $66.8-million ISB will group existing scientists into one location to realize the benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration. Research in the building will focus on energy-related R&D, enabling breakthroughs in the effective uses of renewable energy through improved conversion, transmission, and storage. With $18.6 million in Recovery Act funding accelerating the construction phase of the project, site preparation is substantially complete. About 300 jobs will be created during construction, managed by E.W. Howell, prime contractor.
All told, close to 2,000 jobs can be counted today and in the near future as work moves forward on the NSLS-II and ISB construction projects. Years from now, these building blocks for science will enable countless discoveries.
Over the past two years, Brookhaven has received $307 million from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, principally to accelerate construction of NSLS-II. These funds were allocated by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to the DOE Office of Science and used to support an array of Office of Science-sponsored construction, laboratory infrastructure, and research projects across the nation.
“There’s a school of thought that [the Recovery Act] was a big mistake, that we have nothing to show for it,” said Bishop, as he gestured toward the steel superstructure of NSLS-II towering over the crowd. “Well, call me crazy, but this looks pretty real to me.”
Stanley added that the innovation that comes out of NSLS-II will build upon the region’s knowledge economy. “Let us all pledge to work together — industry, academia, government — to derive the full measure of benefit from our scientific endeavors," he said. "Our region, our state and our country expect no less."