Constructing a skyscraper that can withstand the elements and provide a place to live, work, or play is a complex undertaking. The lengthy construction process is often divided into several stages with specific terms denoting each phase. In today's Explainer, we look at the terminology used by SkyriseCities and other websites to describe a building as it gradually approaches completion. 

Ten York in Toronto is now above grade, image by Marcus Mitanis

Once digging or excavation for the project is completed, the crane is installed, and the building can begin to rise. When the tower climbs high enough to hit ground level, it has reached grade. Below-grade, at-grade and above-grade are simply terms to signify whether the building is below, flush with, or above ground level.

As it nears its final height, it becomes structurally topped out when the final structural element of the building is installed. This does not include any spires, antennas, or parapets, that once secured into place, would designate the building as architecturally topped out. After topping out, the concrete or steel envelope is completely sealed from the outside with glazing or other finishing, and it becomes fully clad

Picasso Condos in Toronto is approaching a fully clad state, image by Marcus Mitanis

When the building is ready to be utilized for its intended purpose, even if some construction or cosmetic work is still occurring, it becomes substantially complete. This often coincides with occupancy for office and residential projects. Final completion of the building is celebrated when the building is architecturally topped out, fully clad, occupied and all exterior and interior work has been executed. 

Have any other construction and development related terms that you would like to see featured on Explainer? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!