The upcoming expansion of the GC America’s headquarters in Alsip, Illinois, was launched with a traditional Japanese groundbreaking ceremony. The ceremony began with the pacification or purification of the grounds by a Shinto priest. The ritual, called Ji Chin Sai, is intended to invite the “kami” (or local guardians) to the area, and the purification rites prepare for their arrival. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Lawrence Koichi Barrish, a Shinto priest from Granite Falls, Washington. He explained to attendees that it was similar to inviting a guest into one’s home. The purification can be compared to cleaning and preparation prior to the visit, which is followed by honorific words of welcome upon the guest’s arrival.
Rev. Barrish addressed the kami in the jichinsai norito, expressing gratitude and respect for the kami, asking for safety during the construction work, and praying for health and prosperity for users of the new building. As part of the purification, sake and salt were poured and scattered at the four corners of the enclosure. The ceremony highlights included Mr. Makoto Nakao, Chairman of GC Corporation, breaking the ground by cutting grass on top of a ‘mountain’ with a sickle, Mr. Steve Fletcher, President and Chief Operating Officer, removing rocks with a hoe, and Mr. Shinya Urano, President of Kajima Building and Design Group, burying an offering to the kami with a spade.
Attendees included Mr. Al Riley (Illinois State Representative), Mr. John Ryan (Mayor, Alsip, Illinois), Mr. Naoki Ito (Consul-General of Japan in Chicago), Dr. Gary Roberts (President, American Dental Association), Dr. Clark Stanford (University of Illinois Chicago Distinguished Professor and Dean), and several other key industry leaders.
Demolition and site preparation are scheduled to begin in the fall, and construction will start March 2018, with completion by July 2019. GC America currently has a training facility and logistics center and a separate location for office personnel in addition to its headquarters. Expanding the current 95,000 square feet at its headquarters to 150,000 square feet will enable the company to bring all operations to one location.