This month’s WWW History Column (The Way We Were) will be a slight departure from the norm in honor of our 50th Anniversary celebration of the forming of our CSI Chapter. Although our Charter states that the official organization actually began on October 2, 1967, the board decided not to combine the Anniversary Celebration with the October 2017 EXPO. With my weird imagination and ever active mind, I searched for another prominent event that took place during the month of November that I could reference along with the principals of CSI. Once I found that event, the rest came easy. So here is my version of how our Chapter really began. It strangely follows the pattern of a great speech written on the back of an envelope while traveling to a ceremony dedicating a national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It also happened during November, like it is now. The date was November 19, 1863 – one hundred fifty four years ago – and the political situation of this great country then was quite similar to the controversial events that we see around us today – whether or not our great nation can survive the attacks against it. That speech was given by a man, whose image today is relegated to the lowest common monetary unit in the United States (the COPPER PENNY). That profound speech today lives on in the annuls of the world.
THE FOUNDING OF CSI CHAPTER 098
Two score and ten years ago, our construction industry fore-bearers brought forth on this city, a new organization, ordained with the purpose to collect and organize a new set of Construction Documents; conceived with the notion that they be clear, correct, complete, and concise. That organization is the Construction Specifications Institute.
Now we are engaged in many great methods of construction, whether this contract, or any contract, should be Prime Contractor, Single Prime, Multiple Prime, Design-Build, Construction Management, or (yikes) the Owner Builder Contract. We are met in the Imaginary Plan Room of the Internet, BIM, Virtual Reality, and PechaKucha where previous estimators, sub-contractors, and suppliers, have left it all hanging out on the table. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should adjust to a world of technology and cyber space where hard copy and Sweets Catalogs are things of the past.
But in a larger sense, we cannot forget our slide rules, scales, T-squares and triangles. We have long forgotten the world of early computerized specifications utilizing electric typewriters and “Mag-Cards.” We must forever drive to meetings, steering with one hand and texting with the other along the way to an ever changing atmosphere where instantaneous information is becoming the norm. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here (unless Alexa unscrambles our words and forwards our secret thoughts throughout SWITCH, the inner sanctums of the Old Steelcase Pyramid). Is that really a large bug hovering outside your office window or is some competitor’s drone transmitting your secret proposal to the enemy?
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task of reaching deadlines and bottom lines by discerning and disseminating information from those estimators, suppliers, and spec writers to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. We highly resolve that those fore-bearers shall not have acted in vain – that this project, this contract, and these documents, under MasterFormat, shall not have been written in vain and shall not perish from the Universe.
Author: Christopher Alexander
Christopher is a registered Architect and Architectural Revit Coordinator at Progressive AE in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to Revit and BIM, he dapples in web design, CSI, and enjoys spending time with his wife, 4-year-old, and 1-year-old.