French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Avenits marked a milestone in constructing its new Oro Valley headquarters last Tuesday with a luncheon and a topped-out steel celebration.

The event, attended by Mayor Paul Loomis, marked the installation of the final steel girder on the multi-level laboratory under construction at Innovation Park Drive and Rancho Vistoso Boulevard.

“We know the quality of company you are,” Loomis told the audience of company executives and construction workers. “Your employees live, work and volunteer in Oro Valley.”

A tradition among ironworkers has been to use the positioning of the final girder as marker of the halfway point in construction, and to indicate the building has reached its pinnacle height.

Following speeches by Loomis and others, workers affixed U.S. and French flags and a small evergreen tree to the girder, fastened the assembly to a crane and hoisted it skyward to the building’s peak.

The evergreen is meant to signify that no one has lost their life during the construction of the building.

The company plans to have the job complete by May 2009.

When finished, Sanofi-Aventis officials said the 110,000-square foot laboratory and office complex will hold the capacity for the firm to increase its workforce by as many as 40 people.

The company currently employs about 80 people.

Additionally, the company plans to build the new facility to strict environmental and energy efficient standards as set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Participants in Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) standards set by the council endeavor to use energy-saving heaters, air conditioners and other ways that will lessen their resource consumption.

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