Topping out has taken place at a highly-regarded scheme at New College, Oxford.

Main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine hosted the July 1 event to celebrate construction work on the Gradel Quadrangles, a striking three-storey development of student accommodation, new school buildings, porter’s lodge and landmark 21.5-metre tower.

The project has been recognised by the Institution of Civil Engineers as a Carbon Champion programme.

At the ceremony a piper led guests to the rooftop where the traditional pouring of concrete took place and an evergreen bough was nailed to the structure, a custom which dates back to Roman times. It is intended to protect buildings from evil spirits. A ceremonial exchange a tankard then took place.

Miles Young, warden of New College, said: “The Gradel Quadrangles at New College represent the latest chapter in our 643 year story. Enabled by the generous funding of Chris Gradel and many other donors, we will now be able to house all our undergraduates for their time with us, removing pressure on Oxford’s housing supply.

“At the topping out we can already sense that these new buildings will be an exciting addition to Oxford’s townscape. We are thrilled with the progress made by Sir Robert McAlpine in bringing it to life.”

Ian Cheung, managing director south, Sir Robert McAlpine, said: “This topping out ceremony is a perfect opportunity to recognise and celebrate the success of the whole project team. Their exemplar collaboration on this complex scheme has enabled to deliver technical excellence and industry leading sustainability measures. We look forward to continuing our relationship with New College and delivering this state-of-the-art higher education facility for the students of Oxford.”

The scheme is expected to be completed in September 2023.

Image (l-r): Chris Gradel, Jerry Barnes from Sir Robert McAlpine and Gez Wells from New College.

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