North­eastern cel­e­brated a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone on Friday after­noon in the con­struc­tion of Grand­Marc, the university’s newest res­i­dence hall, as the final steel beam was added to the structure.

Grand­Marc is a 17-​​story building under con­struc­tion behind the YMCA of Greater Boston by Phoenix Prop­erty Com­pany and Suf­folk Con­struc­tion. The project will add 720 beds in on-​​campus housing for both first-​​year stu­dents and upper­classmen. Con­struc­tion began in August 2012, and the building is expected to open during the next aca­d­emic year in Jan­uary 2015.

Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun wel­comed Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Mass­a­chu­setts Rep. Jef­frey Sanchez, and Boston City Coun­cilor Michael Ross at Friday’s topping-​​off cer­e­mony, held on St. Botolph Street. Many people affil­i­ated with the project, including the con­struc­tion crews, Aoun, and Menino, signed the white beam before it was cer­e­mo­ni­ously raised and put in place.

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun presented Boston Mayor Thomas Menino with a brick from the former gymnasium where GrandMarc now stands.

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun pre­sented Boston Mayor Thomas Menino with a brick from the former gym­na­sium where Grand­Marc now stands.

In his remarks, Aoun thanked Menino for his lead­er­ship and sup­port on the project and pre­sented him with a brick from the former gym­na­sium where Grand­Marc now stands.

This is an emo­tional moment for us,” Aoun told those gath­ered at the event. “This is really a col­lec­tive effort. But without the mayor, we would not be here today. We would not have a building. He made it happen.”

Under the inno­v­a­tive agree­ment between North­eastern, Phoenix Prop­erty, and the YMCA, Phoenix pur­chased the land on St. Botolph Street from the YMCA and invested $75 mil­lion to build Grand­Marc. North­eastern will lease the building from Phoenix, with the oppor­tu­nity to pur­chase it in the future. This is the first time in the city’s his­tory a third party is devel­oping a col­lege dormitory.

Topping-​​off cer­e­monies date back to about 2,700 B.C. when the first stone building in Egypt was com­pleted. Today in the United States, the cer­e­mony cel­e­brates crews reaching the highest com­po­nent of a project, instead of the com­ple­tion of a project.

In addi­tion to sig­na­tures, the beam was adorned with a small ever­green tree and the Amer­ican flag, which rec­og­nizes the suc­cess and hard work of America’s tradespeople.

Workers prepare to raise the final beam of the GrandMarc building into place.

Workers pre­pare to raise the final beam of the Grand­Marc building into place.

It was in 1898 when North­eastern held its first class at the YMCA, and Aoun noted the uni­ver­sity is coming full circle by building a res­i­dence hall right next to its former home.

Menino said Grand­Marc is not just a pos­i­tive for North­eastern, but also for the city as it will free up pri­vate res­i­dences in neigh­bor­hoods that sur­round the campus where stu­dents live.

This is a very spe­cial day,” Menino said. “Every dor­mi­tory bed we create puts four pri­vate apart­ments back on the streets, and that is impor­tant. The only reason this was suc­cessful is because of people working together. This is a good project for the uni­ver­sity, the city, and the neighborhood.”

During his remarks, Mark DiNapoli, pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of Suf­folk Con­struc­tion, also rec­og­nized two North­eastern civil engi­neering co-​​op stu­dents— Katie Doherty and Nick Pettingill—who have worked at the site.

GrandMarc Topping Off