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"Topping Out" the Robert and Penny Fox Research Tower

Early rains gave way to a beautiful day for the The Wistar Institute's "Topping Out" ceremony for the Robert and Penny Fox Research Tower. Today, faculty, staff, friends, and construction workers joined together to sign the final steel beam before it was hoisted into place. 


Topping Out is a cherished, time-honored custom of iron workers. As the final piece of a structure's skeleton is lifted into place, workers in the U.S. typically adorn it with an American flag and an evergreen tree, which symbolizes the birth of a new building and the fact that the new construction was completed without a loss of life. Wistar's ceremony was a bit different, as the beam, painted white, was available for all to sign, particularly the scientists and staff who are the true strength of the Institute.

In September, 2011, The Wistar Institute broke ground on the Robert and Penny Fox Research Tower,  its first major expansion in 40 years. The seven-story, 89,700-square-foot research tower will enable Wistar to expand its research operations, recruit new scientific faculty and pursue collaborative biomedical research. When complete, Wistar will have a new public entrance on Spruce Street and inspiring public spaces throughout the building. The $100 million expansion project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014. The steel was first erected in early February, 2013 and the skeleton quickly grew until, seemingly overnight, it neared completion.

At the Topping Out ceremony today, Wistar's President and CEO, Russel E. Kaufman shared Wistar's gratitude to those whose support made this building possible, including Citizens Bank, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Coporation, donors, faculty and staff of Wistar, and the construction workers. Dr. Kaufman was joined on an impromptu stage with Richard Horowitz, vice chair of Wistar's Board of Trustees and chair of the Building Committee, as well as Robert and Penny Fox, for whom the research tower is named.

Robert Fox, former chair of Wistar's Board of Trustees and current member, also chairs the Building Wistar, Changing the World campaign that enables the construction of this new research tower.