Topping out

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In building construction, topping out (sometimes incorrectly referred to as topping off) is a ceremony held when the last beam is placed at the top of a building. The term may also refer to the overall completion of the building's structure, or an intermediate point, such as when the roof is dried in. A topping out ceremony is usually held to commemorate the event.

While common in the United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland, the origins of the ceremony are obscure. Its practice has long been an important component of timber frame building. This tradition migrated to America with European craftsmen. A tree or leafy branch is placed on the topmost beam, often with flags and streamers tied to it. A toast is usually drunk and sometimes the workmen are treated to a meal. The ceremony has also been common in the United States when a skyscraper is completed. The last beam to be hoisted is painted white and signed by all the workmen involved. In other types of building, the ceremony typically focuses on the bedding of the last block of masonry or brick. The ceremony is akin to the practice of placing a newspaper or coins under the cornerstone of a building.

<gallery>Image:Topping off liberty hotel.jpg|Topping out the Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts in 2007.Image:Wiecha.jpg|Topping out (Wiecha) - symbol of this tradition in Poland.Image:Topping Out.jpg|Topping out the A-3 Test...
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