Local News

Ironworker stands tall to top off Raleigh skyline

Posted May 14, 2008 6:07 a.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2008 6:42 p.m. EDT

— Walter "Mackey" McClure was on top of the world Wednesday after climbing down from the highest perch in Raleigh.

McClure stood atop the RBC Plaza downtown Wednesday morning to help guide the building’s spire into place as it was lowered by a nearby crane.

"I was the only one left, so I had to be the one up there," a grinning McClure said, noting another ironworker had backed out of spire duty.

Crews began rigging the 11,000-pound spire at 5:30 a.m. so the crane could haul it to the top of a metal pyramid on the building by 7 a.m.

"It was exhilarating," McClure said. "You're standing up there, (and) you're on top of the world. Nothing up there is higher than. You've got that piece coming in, (and it) gets you pumped up and ready to go."

With the pyramid and spire crowning the top of the RBC Plaza, the 33-story building is the tallest in Raleigh at 530 feet tall. The $100 million project is expected to open this fall, when it will house RBC Bank's U.S. headquarters and will feature other offices, retail space and high-rise condominiums.

McClure wore a safety harness as he stood on the metal pyramid, and he said he knew the dangers involved with installing the spire.

"The wind can come through and push it sideways and push against you. You've just got to hold on tight," he said. "(I had to) manhandle it into the hole, you know. We had to work it."

Still, he said he relished the experience and would do it again if he could.

"It ain't nothing. It's crazy. It's just fun. I like to do it," he said.