Fresno State celebrated significant construction progress on the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Student Union with a ceremonial “topping off” event. Members of the campus community signed the last beam at the construction site before it was raised into the building’s highest position at 11 a.m. Friday, March 26, by the design-build contractor, McCarthy Building Companies.

“This symbolic event signals an exciting time for our campus, as this much-needed building rises in the heart of Fresno State,” said Interim President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “We look forward to the completion of the Resnick Student Union next year, and the vibrant energy it will generate to support our talented students.”

Topping off, or “topping out,” is a tradition among construction workers to commemorate the placement of a structure’s final or highest beam. According to a 2001 article in Carpenter magazine, the tradition started in Scandinavia more than 1,000 years ago: “The topping-off ceremony as we know it today originated around 700 A.D. There, people believed that the gods and the spirits of their ancestors lived in the trees the people used to build shelters. Early Scandinavian builders sought to prevent the homeless spirits from becoming angry and cursing their work by placing a tree atop each new building — an offering of a new home for the displaced spirits.”

The 84,000-square-foot Lynda and Stewart Resnick Student Union will include dynamic and flexible meeting spaces,  dedicated spaces for clubs and organizations and a dramatic Town Center that opens directly to the outdoor landscaped spaces surrounding the building. 

The exterior site improvements include outdoor plazas, amphitheater and lawn areas that provide a wide range of flexible and engaging spaces for students. It is located east of the University Center and south of the Kennel Bookstore and will become the welcome center for campus visitors.

The $10 million investment from philanthropists and entrepreneurs Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of The Wonderful Company, is helping to support the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new $60 million building. The Resnick Student Union will embrace the tenets of sustainability and achieve LEED Gold-equivalent certification, incorporating various energy efficiencies,  including solar panels.

Construction had been paused due to a delay by the State Fire Marshal’s office in approving the final building plans. But progress resumed in recent weeks, and the structure of the building is beginning to take shape.

The University projects the building will open in fall 2022.

Fresno State students voted in March 2018 to approve a fee increase that supports the construction and operation of this new facility. The students won’t begin paying the fee — $149 per semester — until the student union opens.