Winter 2021|volume 15|Issue 2

    Steel City Real Estate

    What Does It Mean to Be ‘Topped Out’?

    Darla K. Jobkar

    Darla K. Jobkar

    Despite the changing seasons and the occasional brutal temperatures and generous snow as we head into winter, the Strip District remains under construction. Many of our newest buildings have reached an important, internationally recognized milestone in the construction trade: The final beams will soon be placed at the top of the structures, rendering the outer frameworks complete.
    Reaching the apex of an office building, condominium, residential project, or church is a globally recognized moment in the building industry that has held meaning for cultures since simple timber framing began. Scandinavians originally placed a tree atop a new building’s frame to placate the tree spirits whose lumber they used for construction and whose trees were displaced in the process. England, northern Europe, and America soon adopted the once-religious rite for their own building purposes, and we call the ceremony “topping out.”

    There are a multitude of markers to signify the celebration; historically, it was a tree, but a leafy branch, streamers, and flags can also be placed. Topping-out parties are joyful occasions where workers and those involved in the project share a toast, and in some cultures a meal.

    To be regionally specific, Pittsburgh could take a unique spin on the topping out of the many developments throughout the Strip District, downtown, and the suburbs. They are all at a confluence of trade and business in the gilded age; they are at the foothills of our cultural districts and suburban neighborhoods. In a city well known for its undying loyalty to its three professional sports teams—all of which share the same team colors—perhaps a tree, an American flag, and black and gold streamers are in order?

    In the UK, Germany, Austria, much of eastern Europe, and America, the last beam of a building is whitewashed so that it may be signed by the construction workers who participated. The Dutch pannenbier is a celebration where workers erect a flag at the top of the highest beam, only to be removed when they are served beer by the building’s owner. Right now, there’s no word about the type of beer the workers in Pittsburgh will be demanding, but it will undoubtedly be well deserved.

    For a sample of the topping-out stage, take a look at a topping out from a bird-eye’s view! Follow the drone in this video to get a greater look at how new construction continues to enhance the cityscape of our beloved Strip:

    Darla K. Jobkar is a full-time, top-producing realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. She has been serving the Greater Pittsburgh area for the past 27 years, and she is a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. Darla holds the following real estate designations: Certified Residential Specialist, Accredited Buyer’s Representative, and graduate of the Realtor’s Institute. For more information about the Darla K. Jobkar Real Estate Team, visit her website at or the Berkshire website, And follow Darla at and

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