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University of South Carolina Lancaster officials invited community members to leave their mark on Founders Hall, Friday, July 12, during a beam signing ceremony to celebrate another milestone in the long-awaited building’s construction.
In all, nearly 100 people, including construction workers, county residents, students, business leaders and local and state politicians, joined with university officials to sign the last I-beam to be set in the 40,000-square-foot building’s steel frame.
USCL broke ground on the $7.5 million classroom and faculty office building in January, eight years after its conception.
The building is scheduled to open for classes during the fall 2014 semester.
USCL Dean Walt Collins said the event was, in part, a way to thank the community for its support.
“This is one of those big events in the construction of a building,” Collins said. “It commemorates the occasion, but it really allows the community to see the progress being made.
“It’s a chance to let people be a part of the history of the building,” he said.
Founders Hall is going up between the Bradley Arts and Sciences Building and Medford Library.
The building will house 18 classrooms and 25 faculty offices, along with two seminar and meeting rooms, a multimedia lecture hall and an art department.
Plans for the project also include an outdoor amphitheater that will be open for public events.
The general contractor for the project is Perception Builders of Lancaster with construction by Beam Construction of Cherryville, N.C.
Project manager Marshall Bailes said setting the beam means the building is approximately “30 to 35 percent complete.”
“We’ve got one more slab of concrete to pour ... and we’ve done the majority of the steel work,” Bailes said. “We’ve started doing some exterior walls.
“You can see the frame, but you’ll see it starting to take shape as a building now,” he said.
Chad Catledge of Perception Builders said the beam-signing signals the second construction milestone after the groundbreaking, but its real significance lies is in the fact that it’s a community celebration.
“I look at this as a community project because a university is an important part of a community,” Catledge said.
“It’s going to be a nice project, and it’s going to be a nice asset to the USCL campus,” he said. “I think it’s something you can all be proud of.”
University officials have long said Founders Hall is a community effort that would have been impossible without local financial support.
The community donated approximately $3 million toward the project, including a significant portion from non-corporate donors.
USC Board of Trustees member Hugh Mobley said such community support for an educational facility is rare.
“If we had to go before the Legislature to get money for this, we wouldn’t be out here doing this today,” he said.
The largest donor for the project was Founders Federal Credit Union, which donated $1 million, a donation that earned it the right to name the building.
Nicki Nash, Founders’ senior vice president for marketing and community relations, said the beam-signing ceremony was a special occasion not only for USCL, but for Founders and the entire community.
“We are thrilled to see this building going up and it was wonderful to be with all of the first class individuals who are making it happen,” Nash said. “We are extremely proud to have this legacy at USCL.”
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151