The last bolt on the 1350-tonne steel framework has been tightened in a traditional ceremony at the King's School's rapidly emerging £60-million campus.
In building construction, the 'topping out' ceremony is a builders' rite traditionally held when the last beam is placed atop a structure. For the new King's campus, the tightening of the bolts on the final beam also marks the half-way stage for the construction project, which is due for completion in May 2020.
Builders VINCI Construction UK are on target for this delivery date at the Alderley Road site in Macclesfield.
VINCI Project Manager Martin Horton said: "We are delighted with progress and we will be proudly handing over what is going to be a magnificent site, on time. It is a really exciting project for us to work on and it has been a pleasure today to welcome a group of pupils, parents and Governors to show them the progress on their new school."
Martin added: "The completion of the steel frame is a major milestone and we will now bring in a range of different trades to complete the concrete flooring, underfloor heating, brickwork, blockwork and drainage, before we start the landscaping."
King's Infant pupil, Xanthe Watkin, aged 5, joined Headmaster Dr Simon Hyde, The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs and Chair of Governors Dr John Kennerley to tighten the final bolt on the main academic building.
The county's Lord Lieutenant David Briggs, said: "It is clearly going to be wonderful for Macclesfield and the whole county of Cheshire and I am not surprised at all that King's is already seeing a significant increase in demand for places."
Councillor Adam Schofield, Mayor of Macclesfield, added: "I am very pleased that it blends into the surrounding landscape nicely and it will be a fantastic addition to Macclesfield's facilities." Pick Everard Associate Architect Andrew Brown, who was the principal designer on the project, confirmed this had been his overriding aim: "When we first visited the site, it was clearly a very beautiful part of the Cheshire landscape and we wanted to let the landscape speak, not breaking the tree line, not putting too much detail on the facade but letting the landscape tell its story. It is a truly magnificent setting."
King's Headmaster Dr Simon Hyde said: "This ceremony has allowed us to bring together and thank all those who have been involved in the project so far including our advisors, architects, engineers, builders, governors, parents and former pupils, as well as our pupils who will benefit from this fantastic building in the years to come. I think it is fair to say that all were impressed with progress to date and excited for the future."
Between Macclesfield and Over Alderley, the 80-acre site will feature a main academic building and a separate Sports Centre, both of which have been designed to incorporate as much natural light as possible, with flexible learning areas and spaces for pupil wellbeing, as well as being fully equipped with contemporary ICT infrastructure throughout.
The academic building will include a large Science faculty, an Arts and Design faculty with contemporary workshops, studios and an exhibition space, a Performing Arts faculty with a range of practice rooms, drama halls, a recording studio and a recital theatre, a Modern Foreign Languages faculty with language classrooms and laboratories, dedicated classrooms for English, Mathematics and the Humanities, as well as a central library and large entrance foyer. An imposing Main Hall will be available for both school events and community functions, plus there will be purpose-built facilities for Infant and Junior pupils based on the latest thinking on indoor and outdoor classrooms, a Sixth Form learning zone with specialist tutor rooms, common rooms and a Careers' Hub.
The Sports Centre, which will complement the Derby Fields Sports Pavilion, will offer a six lane, 25-metre swimming pool, a sports hall, indoor cricket nets, a dance/martial arts studio, fitness suite and café. Outside, the 80-acre campus will feature rugby pitches, all-weather hockey pitches, cricket pitches, netball courts, tennis courts, football pitches, rounders pitches and a 400-metre athletics track.