Topping out of Barking Skills Centre celebrated

Construction of an education building which will recreate a real working environment for teenagers has reached its highest point.

A topping out ceremony was held for the six-storey Barking Skills Centre, just 25 weeks to the day since ground was first broken on the project.

The �10.6million scheme is on track to be handed over next summer and is due to open in September 2012. It will be managed by Barking and Dagenham College on behalf of Barking and Dagenham Council.

Mark Pengelly, managing director of Kier Construction (London), which is constructing the centre, and Cllr Mick McCarthy, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, trowelled in the final section of the building at a ceremony on November 2, signalling its structural completion.

The event was attended by representatives from the council and the college, whose principal Cathy Walsh described the topping out as a key milestone for “a fantastic flagship facility”.

The centre, constructed on former wasteland off London Road, is aimed at youngsters aged between 14 and 19, and will offer a range of vocational occupational courses.

Among the subjects available will be sustainable construction, ICT, hair and beauty, and hospitality and catering.

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Part funded by the Department for Education, the centre is also directly linked to Barking Methodist Church next door, which will benefit its work in supporting a wide range of local community groups.

One of the features of the new building is a 23metre long main beam, which acts as a central reinforced concrete spine. It is designed to support the upper four floors throughout the building, allowing for bigger floors with uninterrupted space, meaning there is more room for practical training activities.