Tree-top ceremony plants seed of innovation
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Westmead’s precinct partners celebrate the topping-out ceremony on the Innovation Centre.

One of Australia’s most significant structures of the next few decades celebrated a major landmark towards completion on Friday.

While spruce and pines currently fill the pre-Christmas landscape, the Westmead Innovation Centre marked its milestone with a traditional tree of its own. And unlike most festive firs, this 15-metre specimen was craned in to position.

The topping-out ceremony on the centre’s seventh and final storey, attended by dignitaries and guests from Westmead’s precinct partners, will prove a brief but important moment in our nation’s scientific journey.

The Innovation Centre aims to tap into the precinct’s existing expertise across healthcare, research and education in a unique space for multi-disciplinary problem-solving.

It also represents a focal point for collaboration with industry and commercial partners to build on Westmead’s global reputation as a leading research and innovation precinct.

Senior site manager at Multiplex, Vito Pasqua, said the ceremony was an important landmark and held historic significance.

"The placement of a tree on top of a building in a topping-out ceremony symbolises the completion of the skeleton or main structure of a building and celebrates the important achievement in a building’s construction,” Vito informed guests.

"The tree is also placed to bring good luck in completing the remaining aspects of the project in a safe and timely order.

"The custom can be traced back to ancient Scandinavian times where a tree or branch was placed on the upmost highest structure to warn away evil tree spirits."

Bird’s eye view … Professor Dominic Dwyer from NSW Health Pathology
tracks the descent of the topping-out tree onto the Innovation Centre.

 

Westmead Redevelopment senior project director Tim Mason said the event marked an important step in the construction timeline.

“The topping out of the Innovation Centre is an exciting milestone because it means we are one step closer to building a dedicated space for the collaboration of education, training and research in the Westmead precinct,” Tim said.

“The centre is integral to the precinct’s vision of becoming an innovation district and we look forward to completing the remainder of the building for its opening in 2020.”

The centre will house new flexible exhibition, conference, meeting, education, training, social and work spaces.

Its high-tech lobby will offer a warm, light-filled entry to the centre - designed to host a digital projection gallery as part of the redevelopment’s arts and culture strategy.

Topping-out thanks go to all our precinct partners: The Children's Hospital at Westmead, The University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Private Hospital, Multiplex Constructions, PwC Australia and Health Infrastructure.