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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Hopkins Center celebrates its Topping Off Ceremony

Members of the Dartmouth community gathered to celebrate a major milestone of the Hop’s renovation with a “topping off” ceremony.

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On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Dartmouth leaders, Hopkins Center for the Arts employees, community members and donors gathered to sign a steel beam in front of Wilson Hall. The beam was then hoisted on top of the Hop for a celebration of its “topping off” in construction. Members of the community celebrated the milestone through a celebratory lunch at the Courtyard Cafe catered by Dartmouth Dining Services, according to Hop communications manager Asmaa Abdallah. 

The raising of the signed beam — decorated with a small Lone Pine and an American flag — was hoisted onto the Hop at 2 p.m.

“I think it’s really exciting to have this ceremony signaling the beginning of the end for the Hop’s renovation,” Provost David Kotz, who was in attendance, said. “I think the students will particularly enjoy the renovations as the arts community here grows.”

“It’s incredible to see the new vision for the Hop begin to take shape,” Hop executive director Mary Lou Aleskie said. “Halfway through construction, we’ve witnessed not only the raising of these beams but also the building of community spirit and anticipation for the transformative role the Hop will play in its reimagined spaces for generations to come.”

The Dartmouth Marching Band also performed at the event. Anna Raymond ’27, a clarinet player for the DMB, found it exciting to be in attendance.

“The Hop as a hub is a super important place for the marching band and all the other musical groups on campus, so we were all excited to be a part of it,” Raymond said. “It was nice to be a part of the action and just to see the next phase of the building for the arts.”

Dartmouth announced the expansion of the Hop in April 2022, working with Norwegian architecture company Snøhetta. According to Snøhetta’s website, this expansion will include a new lobby, called the “forum,” that leads upstairs into the new Recital Hall and Performance Lab and downstairs into a new dance studio.

The “topping off” marks the placement highest beam of the framework of the Hop into place and the exact midpoint of the Hop’s renovation. The renovation was designed by Snøhetta in collaboration with the architecture and engineering firm Page, according to Aleskie.

The never-before-seen architectural model for the new building was unveiled by Snøhetta’s director and senior architect Nick Anderson, showing the Dartmouth community a first look at the project’s future design.

According to Anderson, the $88 million construction project is being led by contractor Consigli Construction Co., Inc., a leading construction manager in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The company has been working to maintain the Hop’s original architecture by Wallace Harrison while adding new and innovative art spaces for the community. The initial plans for the project began in 2019. 

At the ceremony, Anderson gave a speech to the community inside the Hood Museum, in which he explained that this ceremony marks a significant moment in the progress of the Hop’s renovations and indicates a promising future for the Dartmouth arts scene. 

“We can’t wait to see how the capabilities that we’re expanding here at The Hop will amplify the arts at Dartmouth and contribute to the momentum of the growing campus arts district,” Anderson said in his speech.

For Raymond, the renovations demonstrate the prioritization of arts on campus by the College.

“I think the renovation signals a fantastic transition for the school to promote focus on the arts and music,” Raymond explained. “We have a lot of really talented musicians on campus, and I think it’s definitely great that we’re going to get more places to share them, perform and get to practice together.”