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Final beam placed at UCI Health ― Irvine, marking key milestone for project

Marked with the signatures of dedicated UCI Health co-workers, the beam now rests atop the final building under construction

July 17, 2023
construction workers, uci health co-workers and leadership wearing  hard hats and vests watch as the final beam is put in place at uci health irvine, topped with a tree and an american flag
The topping off ceremony at UCI Health — Irvine marked the
placement of the final structural beam and the completion of the
building's framework. View more photos from the event below.
Photos by Karen Tapia

Irvine, Calif. — In an event filled with anticipation and camaraderie, UCI Health leadership and the construction team gathered to witness the "topping off" of the final building at the new UCI Health — Irvine medical campus. This time-honored ceremony symbolizes the placement of the final structural beam and the completion of the building's framework.

Last week, UCI Health co-workers were invited to inscribe their signatures on this final beam. After dozens more construction workers added their names to the white-painted beam during Thursday’s event, its journey culminated at 12:45 p.m., when it was hoisted atop the seven-story, 350,000-square-foot acute care hospital, an integral part of the new UCI Health — Irvine medical campus.

UCI Health CEO Chad T. Lefteris took a moment during the ceremony to speak with more than 100 employees of Hensel Phelps, the company building the new hospital and emergency room.

“This is my favorite part,” Lefteris told the throngs of workers and team leaders assembled for the celebration.

Their efforts and dedication, he told them, will contribute to the health of future patients who will benefit from the world-class care delivered at the new medical center. “On behalf of our 8,000 teammates and hundreds of thousands of patients, thank you so much for what you are doing and the great sense of pride you have shown.”

Watch the ceremony

A potted plant, an American flag 

The first of two cranes then swung into action, lifting the iron girder from its signing perch — a potted plant balanced at one end, an American flag on the other — and placing it closer to the new hospital. A second crane took over, carrying the structural beam to the seventh-floor roof, where workers in hard hats and bright orange safety vests helped maneuver it into place, the plant still in place along with the flag waving in the breeze.

The spiral evergreen plant honored a construction rite that originated centuries ago in Scandinavia to appease the spirits of felled trees by ensuring “that no man-made structure was higher than one of its own,” said Kasie Bowden, the Hensel Phelps project superintendent for the new hospital.

It also served as a fitting symbol for what will be the nation’s first all-electric hospital and medical center, a sign of the UCI Health commitment to minimize environmental impacts while advancing the healthcare landscape.

Improving health and well-being in OC

The topping off ceremony not only marks the successful completion of the structural framework of the final building, it also brings UCI Health closer to its goal of significantly improving the health and well-being of all of the communities in Orange County.

“When we first started planning for the new cancer center in Irvine, we never even thought about building a new hospital,” said UCI School of Medicine Dean Dr. Michael J. Stamos, marveling at the iron-and-steel frame of the new hospital and the adjacent Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory facility.

“This is going to be transformational,” he predicted. “It’s going to set the standard for the rest of the country.”

About UCI Health — Irvine

UCI Health — Irvine, a new medical complex under construction at the north end of the UC Irvine campus, will bring unparalleled expertise and the finest evidence-based care that only an academic medical system can offer to the communities of coastal and south Orange County.

As part of UCI Health — which includes the flagship UCI Medical Center in Orange, Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and multiple outpatient care locations — the new 1.2 million-square-foot campus will offer key clinical programs in oncology, digestive health, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and spine surgery.

The nation’s first all-electric, carbon-neutral medical center, UCI Health — Irvine will be home to:

  • The Joe C. Wen & Family UCI Health Center for Advanced Care, a five-story, 168,000-square-foot medical facility offering the full range of multidisciplinary specialty care for children and adults under a single roof, urgent care services, the Center for Children’s Health and the UCI Health Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders — Opening spring 2024
  • The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ambulatory Care building, a five-story, 225,000-square-foot tower with 36 private exam rooms, numerous infusion bays and operating rooms — Opening 2024
  • A seven-story, 350,000-square-foot, acute care hospital with 144 inpatient beds, 10 operating suites and a 24-hour emergency department with 20 treatment rooms — Opening 2025

About UCI Health

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system in Orange County. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 459-bed, acute care hospital, listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 22 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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See more photos from the event