New City Hall construction progresses as crew ‘tops out’ building

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Construction crews topped out the new City Hall building Wednesday morning. (Michael Seale/Hville Blast)

Huntsville’s new City Hall building is getting closer to completion, as Wednesday morning city leaders and project managers of the construction crew announced the “topping out” of the new facility.

A good-sized crowd was on hand to see the ceremony, which has roots deep in world history.

‘Topping Out’ the new City Hall

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“Topping out” means to place the final beam on a structure during construction. (Michael Seale/Hville Blast)

The roots of the topping out ceremony tradition tie back to the ancient Scandinavian practice of placing an evergreen tree on the top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits. 

Another Native American belief is that no structure could be taller than the trees. In modern times, the custom has evolved to commemorate the moment when the final or highest beam is placed on a new building by placing a tree on the final beam.

In Huntsville’s case, crews placed magnolia branches on the final beam for a “local touch,” so to speak.

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Magnolia branches were placed on the final beam, because — of course — we are in the South! (Michael Seale/Hville Blast)

Anticipating the new City Hall building

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Mayor Tommy Battle said the new building won’t need plastic buckets to catch leaking water, like the current building. (Michael Seale/Hville Blast)

The city broke ground on the new building in August of 2022. Since then, progress has been swift on the project.

The new City Hall building, a seven-story, 175,000-square-foot complex, will be nearly twice the size of the current Municipal Complex, which has been the home of city government for more than half a century now.

The problems with City Hall over the last decade or so have varied from water leaks, old plumbing, HVAC issues and — let’s be real here — the city is growing so much and so quickly that municipal services have expanded and there simply is not room for everyone in the current building.

Taking a poke at the water leak issues, Mayor Tommy Battle held up a plastic bucket at the podium during Wednesday’s topping out ceremony, saying “We won’t need anymore of these to catch water in the hallways.”

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A rendering of the new City Hall building, which should be completed by 2024. (Goodwyn Mills Cawood)

For several years now, departments have been scattered across the city in five different buildings. The new plan brings them all back under one roof with room to grow in the years to come.

Departments previously scattered across the city that will be brought into the new building include:

Other departments with a guaranteed spot in City Hall include

  • Clerk Treasurer
  • City Council
  • Communications
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Office of the Mayor
  • Planning

Updates will be posted regularly on the City News and City Blog sections of the City of Huntsville website.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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