The "topping-off" ceremony for a new building under construction at the N.C. Biotechnology Center came with a biotech twist.
Workers attached a genetically engineered loblolly pine to a steel beam and placed it atop the building's skeleton this morning. The ceremony is a tradition believed to bring a new building good fortune.
The five-foot pine is "symbolic not only of the 'evergreen' future for biosciences in North Carolina, but also illustrates the importance of North Carolina's research leadership to the economic future of the Southeast," center spokesman Jim Shamp wrote in an e-mail.
Shamp drove to N.C. State University last night to pick up the pine, which is part of a study using genetics to develop healthier forests.
The biotech center is constructing the $10.4 million, four-story building at its Research Triangle Park headquarters to create more room for its expanding operations. The state-supported organization works to foster the fast-growing biotech and life sciences industries in North Carolina.