Topped off at Sansom Common

The recent "topping out" ceremony at Sansom Common attracted dozens of onlookers from across the University, celebrating the placement of the last steel beam on top of the building.

With construction on time and within budget, the ceremony Feb. 12 launched the final phase of construction for the $120 million, 300,000 square-foot retail, dining, hotel and residential complex. Construction began Aug. 1, 1997.

New retail will start to fill the spaces over the summer, along with a Barnes & Noble superstore, which should be operational next fall, said Tom Lussenhop, Penn's managing director for institutional real estate. A Penn-owned hotel, to be managed by Doubletree Hotels and called "The Inn at Penn," should be up and running in the fall of 1999.

Topping out ceremonies have long and colorful histories, from Roman and Aztec practices of appeasing gods with human sacrifices upon a building's completion, to the current practice usually involving a small pine tree and American flag. Penn's flag replaced the pine tree, and construction crews confirmed no human sacrifices were performed in connection with the topping out of Sansom Common.


Originally published on February 26, 1998