Monday, February 23, 2015

Pursuing a Common Language

Attendees enjoy the 2015 C3 Conference trade show produced by CSI Willamette Valley Chapter at the Eugene Hilton (my photo)
 
Construction communication and collaboration was again the focus of the biggest design & construction forum on the annual calendar for the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. The well-attended C3 Conference took place this past Thursday at the Eugene Hilton Hotel & Conference Center. If you weren’t there, you missed out on a terrific opportunity to learn, network, and celebrate. 
 
Like the 2014 edition, this year’s conference rewarded attendees with the opportunity to attend free educational seminars and a diverse product show. The organizers underscored the conference’s communication and collaboration theme by inviting everyone in the local construction industry to attend. It brought together the people who build our community—the architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, owners, bankers, and others—to advance matters of common interest. 
 
Jointly hosted by AIA-Southwestern Oregon and NAWIC Eugene, C3 spotlighted a growing optimism for the immediate future. The focus of this year’s event was the “Projects in the Pipe Line” dinner presentation. It featured leading lights from four institutions responsible for a notable percentage of planned future developments: 
 
Eugene School District 4J
 
 
Roosevelt Middle School design by Mahlum & Robertson/Sherwood/Architects

Jon Lauch is 4J’s Director of Facilities Management. Thanks to the munificence of Eugene’s voters, Jon could happily report about the progress of several major new school building projects: 
  • Howard Elementary School – Currently under construction, the design by PIVOT Architecture along with DOWA-IBI Group is scheduled for occupancy next February.
  • River Road Elementary School – Also designed by the team of PIVOT/DOWA-IBI, the new school’s site package will be executed this coming summer. Following will be completion of the school gymnasium by Summer 2016, with all construction completed by Fall of 2017.
  • Roosevelt Middle School – Now ready for bidding, the new Roosevelt Middle School is scheduled to be ready for students by Fall 2016. The project is designed by Robertson/Sherwood/Architects (my firm) with Mahlum Architects of Portland.
  • Jefferson Middle School/Arts & Technology Academy – Rowell Brokaw Architects has teamed with Opsis Architecture of Portland to design the massive makeover of the existing Jefferson Middle School. Construction will begin in Spring 2016 with a targeted completion date of Fall 2017.
  • Gilham Elementary School GMA Architects is designing a new addition for the school.

City of Springfield
 
Simpson's mural in downtown Springfield (my photo)

John Tamulonis is the Community Development Manager for the City of Springfield. Self-deprecatingly, John opened his presentation by claiming the city has no shortage of plans but is short on funds to implement them. But what big plans they are! They include significant and very real projects by other public agencies and private businesses who call Springfield home: 

City of Eugene
 
New Eugene City Hall (by Rowell Brokaw Architects & Miller/Hull)

Denny Braud is the City of Eugene’s Community Development Manager. Denny started by highlighting the numerous projects developed in the downtown core in just the past few years and the very real renaissance they’ve spurred there. Some of the exciting downtown projects currently in the pipeline include:

In addition, the city expects numerous other projects to begin construction in the coming year, including:

  • Bascom Village (101 new units of affordable housing)
  • Turtle Creek affordable housing (20 single-family units)
  • West Eugene EmX extension ($94 million; service projected to start in 2017)
  • Public Works Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements
  • Eugene Airport upgrades (including a new baggage carousel and ticket counter modifications)
  • Hynix plant transformation into a multi-tenant data storage facility
Denny cited some notable statistics from the past year. The city issued permits for $338 million worth of construction projects in 2014, a 15-year high. There were 1,100 individual building projects, which required more than 51,000 separate inspections. There’s no doubt Eugene is on a roll with the promise of much more in 2015. 

University of Oregon

Price Science Commons, by Opsis Architecture

Chris Ramey, AIA, LEED Green Associate, is the University of Oregon’s Associate Vice-President for Campus Planning and Real Estate. Chris described an exciting variety of projects currently in the design stages for UO’s Eugene campus. These include the following large CM/GC projects (projections for when subcontractor bidding will occur are in parentheses):

  • New Residence Hall (February-August 2015)
  • Jane Sanders Stadium (April-July 2015)
  • Price Science Commons Addition/Renovation (April-July 2015)
  • Columbia 150 Lecture Hall Remodel (Spring 2015)
  • Bradford Building (Spring-Summer 2015)
Chris also described numerous smaller projects:
  • HVAC improvements at the Computing Center, Deschutes Hall, and various residence halls (Spring 2015)
  • Central Power Station Roof Replacement (February-March 2015)
  • Gerlinger Hall Complete Building Envelope Restoration (February-March 2015)
  • Campus Sewer Line Replacements (April-June 2015)
  • Knight Library Interior Reconfiguration (June-September 2015)
  • Onyx Bridge and Klamath Hall Lab Remodeling (Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall 2015)

Additionally, Chris invited everyone to attend the UO Reverse Vendor Fair, which takes place this coming Wednesday, February 25 at the Club room at Autzen Stadium. The fair is an opportunity to meet with UO and other agency purchasers, and learn how to do business and build partnerships with various university departments.

*    *    *    *    *    *

What was perhaps most impressive about this year’s conference was how quickly it all came together. Big props to the members of the C3 committee, which included Steven Leuck, Alorie Mayer, Zach Rix, Tana Baker, Tom Deines, Linn West, Brian Hamilton, Jim Christian, Kristina Koenig, Loren Berry, Marina Wrensch, Greg Weimer, and Travis Sheridan (forgive me if I’ve failed to list anyone on the committee) for a job well done!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Guest Viewpoint: Steven Leuck

 
My busy schedule continues to thwart my blogging efforts so I’m thankful I can call on others to provide content for SW Oregon Architect. The following is another reprint from The Documentor, the newsletter of the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. In this instance WVC/CSI president Steven Leuck wrote the piece in the February 2015 edition as his “From the President” message to the WVC/CSI membership. 
 
With Steven’s permission, I’m republishing his article here on SW Oregon Architect for the benefit of those who read my blog but do not receive The Documentor. Steven discusses his experience with the design/build project delivery method. 
 
Design-Build
By Steven Leuck, President WVC/CSI
 
Design-Build. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that term? About 20 years ago or so the term was a new one for me. I had been working for Philips Electric here in Eugene for about 5 years. Up until that time most of what we had been bidding and performing work on was competitively bid commercial, institutional and government projects. As it was explained to me at the time, design-build work would give us the opportunity to work as partners with the other MEP subs, architects, engineers and general contractors. This would put us into a better position to work out issues among ourselves as they arose rather than deal with them as adversaries. When I heard all this for the first time I was excited about the prospect of the design/build process. 
 
After completing a few design-build projects, I realized the method eased some of the anxiety inherent with the common design-bid-build process. It dawned on me that with the design/bid/build method, the moment you signed the contract, many people felt they were all in adversarial positions. The specifications were often used as guidelines to hammer on each other for either redress or absolution from responsibilities. None of this is enjoyable and it is certainly not a good way to spend a lifetime at this job. The contrast from that viewpoint alone was eye opening for me. 
 
But, is design-build right for every job and every contractor? Certainly not. Not all contractors, design professionals, and/or developers are well suited to this kind of partnership. Likewise, just as some projects by their very nature are better suited to this method, some projects are not good fits. Wisdom needs to be exercised in deciding which projects should utilize this method and who the team members should be. We could spend a lot of time talking about just these decisions alone. 
 
However, after all is said and done, the ability to work together with other trades, designers and owners to achieve an effective synergy is very rewarding indeed. Solutions to challenges are worked out with an eye towards cooperation rather than fault-finding. Cooperation is the key ingredient in this method to reach cost-effective solutions for all involved. 
 
All of this reminds me some of the primary objectives of CSI: “The mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.” How do we do that? Much like the design-build method, we rely on a number of factors such as team-building, cooperation, education, and constant development. 
 
 
Ancient biblical writ suggests that no part of the church is better than the other but rather we’re all important parts of the whole. Equally, I’d venture to say that no one part of the design-build team is more important than the others when considered in the aggregate. We are all equal in the task of bringing in a successful project. As we recognize that and work together to find the best solutions to the challenge that is construction, we will build on what we have done and create the synergy we need to become better and better at what we deliver. 
 
I am proud to be a part of CSI and proud of what CSI provides for its membership and others within the design professions and tradespeople. We make a difference in how things are done and the products we deliver.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Breaking News!

Work and extracurricular obligations are once again getting in the way of my blogging efforts, so I’m opportunely reposting two announcements first broadcast by AIA-Southwestern Oregon. Technically they aren’t exactly “breaking news” items but they are recent, welcome developments. I’m sharing them here for the readers of my blog who are not on AIA-SWO’s mailing list. 

 
AIA-SWO Has a New Website!
It's current! It's useful! It's easy to update! Welcome to YOUR new AIA-SWO website! 

We hope you find it to be a handy resource for checking the events calendar, reading (and sharing) the latest news, understanding the structure and initiatives of the chapter, and connecting with fellow members. This is still a work in progress, and we welcome your feedback….especially the "I love it!" kind. 

Special thanks goes to our dedicated group of volunteers who made this a reality: Karen Williams, Eleni Tsivitzi, Barbara Harris, and Chris Strang. Also, if you're interested in participating on the Website/Communications Committee, please contact Karen Williams at (kwilliams@pivotarchitecture.com). 

Take a few minutes to explore it and let us know what you think!  www.aiaswo.org 

Ecstatically/Gratefully/Humbly,
Jenna Fribley, AIA, 2015 AIA-SWO Chapter President 

I have perused the new website and I must say it is very nice. It’s absolutely loaded with information in an easy-to-navigate and attractive format. Significantly, as Jenna mentions above, the website will be easy to update. Therein lies the key to its future success: the website needs to be kept current at all times, particularly the calendar. Ditto for the member directory and firm profiles, which at best were only infrequently maintained on the old website. 

Kudos to Karen, Eleni, Barbara, and Chris for a job well done! 

Michael Fifield, FAIA 

Michael Fifield, FAIA named ACSA Distinguished Professor
Michael Fifield, FAIA, University of Oregon Professor of Architecture and former department head, has been recognized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) as a Distinguished Professor. This award recognizes sustained creative achievement and the advancement of architectural education through teaching, design, scholarship, research, and service. Professor Fifield joins a select group of architectural educators nationwide who have had a profound impact upon their students and distinguished themselves as leaders in architectural education. 

In the 30-year history of the award, a maximum of five are given nationally each year. The University of Oregon Department of Architecture, ranked #1 in Sustainable Design, has the distinction of having one of the highest numbers of ACSA Distinguished Professor Award recipients nationally. Professor Fifield joins other University of Oregon ACSA Distinguished Professors Frances Bronet, Judith Sheine, John Reynolds, FAIA, Howard Davis, and Donald Corner. Fifield says he is humbled to join these colleagues as well as previous winners of the ACSA Distinguished Professors including nationally recognized architects and educators from other universities such as Charles Moore, Fay Jones, Ralph Rapson, Denise Scott-Brown, Romaldo Giurgola, Gunnar Birkerts, and Christopher Alexander. 

Prior to coming to the University of Oregon in 1998, Professor Fifield was department head at Penn State University as well as Director of the Joint Urban Design Program at Arizona State University where he taught for eleven years. He currently is Director of the Housing Specialization Program in the UO Department of Architecture and teaches housing design studios, and subject-area courses including Housing Prototypes, Community Design, and Minimal Dwelling. 

Professor Fifield was recognized for his diverse contributions to education – not only within the academy, but also the profession and community by promoting the value of design excellence in our built environment, as well for his mentorship of students and faculty. While receiving numerous professional practice and teaching awards, Fifield feels most pleased with the significant accomplishments of former students who have gone on to be leaders in the profession. 

The President of ACSA will present a medallion and certificate at the 103rd ACSA Annual meeting in Toronto later this year. Recipients become Fellows of the College of Distinguished Professors of Architecture and may use the title ACSA Distinguished Professor, DPACSA in perpetuity. 

I’ve enjoyed the privilege of seeing Michael in action with his students. He’s always impressed me with his dedication to broadening their appreciation for the challenges posed by society’s need to provide life-enriching, sustainable, and affordable housing options. I've also enjoyed the good fortune to know him as a fellow member of the AIA-SWO board and as a friend. I can’t think of a more deserving person than Michael to receive this national honor.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Influences: Antoine Predock

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, by Antoine Predock Architect pc
 
The latest issue of ARCHITECT magazine, the official publication of the American Institute of Architects, features the recently completed Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Described in the museum’s own promotional material as a “symbolic apparition of ice, clouds, and stone set in a field of sweet grass . . . carved into the earth and dissolving into the sky” and as a “mythic stone mountain . . . unifying and timeless,” there’s no doubt it is a landmark; however, what appeals as much to me about the project as its remarkable visuals is the mind of the architect responsible for its design: Antoine Predock, FAIA. 
 
Antoine Predock is a true original—a maverick who has practiced on the edges of contemporary architecture for nearly half-a-century. He works outside of style, mining concerns more elemental and essential than most architects ever consider. He is one of the few architects who can convincingly extract the spirit of a place and give that spirit its own free, unfettered form. His buildings are typically rooted in and part of the natural landscape. They also echo and evoke the cultural landscape. They’re always thoroughly unconventional, one-of-a-kind blends of art, science, history, and place. 
 
I consider Antoine Predock the quintessentially American architect: fond of the broad horizon, individualistic, a westerner, and a keen observer of popular culture. It may be these traits that best served him among the many who vied for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It took an American boldness of approach to deliver an architecture eminently attuned to Canadian sensibilities and, more specifically, the culture and landscape of Winnipeg, the Red River Valley, and the tallgrass prairie that surrounds it. Could a Canadian architect or firm have produced an equally stunning result? Perhaps, though the characteristically Canadian proclivities toward pragmatism, indirectness, and cultural conservatism would have been obstacles.(1) 
 
The Museum of Human Rights at once commands and responds to its surroundings. Its limestone, glass walls, and bermed approaches appear as carefully composed, abstracted natural features. Even so, I sense Predock designed the Museum of Human Rights from the inside-out—driven less by a concern for camera-friendly forms than by a desire to create a cinematically inspired and psychologically immersive experience over time. The museum is certainly photogenic (as evidenced by Alex Fradkin’s excellent images for ARCHITECT) but not so intentionally in the picturesque sense. Predock has sometimes described his working method as akin to that of a choreographer. Though photographs hint at the variety and complexity of the museum’s spaces, they cannot adequately communicate the dynamics of movement through them. I definitely need to visit the building to fully appreciate Predock’s intentions. 
 
Model of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (photo by Wpg guy via Wikimedia licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).
 
I’ve taken note of Antoine Predock’s work for decades, from the time I was a student at the University of Oregon during the early 1980s until today. I attended a talk he delivered at the university in 1983, and later saw him speak again in 1989. It was after this second opportunity to hear from him that I wrote a piece for the AIA-Southwestern Oregon newsletter about Predock and his work: 
 
ANTOINE PREDOCK ENTERTAINS, INSPIRES
As the featured speaker at last month’s Northwest and Pacific Region AIA Conference at the Inn at the Seventh Mountain in Bend, Antoine Predock, FAIA, enthralled an envious audience of his peers with a display of his most recent designs. Predock’s rise to prominence has been meteoric since 1985 when he won the commission via competition for the Fine Arts Center at Arizona State University. Consequently, the content of his presentation at the conference was especially fascinating when compared to that of his last address to local architects in 1983 at the University of Oregon.
 
Speaking in Bend, Predock tried to dispel the widely held perception that he is a “regional” architect. He is fond of saying “You’re a regional architect if you can’t get a job out of state.” His interests include far more than just an appropriate response to climate and site, far more than just the studied use of indigenous techniques and materials. As if to underline the fact that his approach to architecture extends beyond these merely prosaic concerns, Predock has, on occasion, described his need to more fully analyze a design problem by way of a “roadcut.” The roadcut is a metaphor for his design process. It is a cut in a rock formation to allow the construction of a road, leaving the geology of the formation exposed: 
 
"At the bottom is Precambrian granite. In the higher levels of the roadcut, there is the cultural residue. Further up the roadcut you have beer cans and McDonald’s wrappings and you might have a cow skull. You can think of it in the same stream of consciousness as Georgia O’Keefe or Ray Bradbury. This cultural stratigraphy is rooted in the tangible and the imaginary.” 
 
The metaphor isn’t meant to be so far-fetched for us that we simply dismiss it as the quirk of a talented and eccentric architect, even if Predock will expand the stratigraphy he mines to include the sky above and UFO’s too. Instead, it is Predock’s self-conscious attempt to call attention to an original design philosophy and to subvert classification as a “regional” architect at the same time. Time magazine took notice of his originality when it tagged him with the honor of being the “first great architect of the New Age,” although one has to wonder if he appreciated being cast in with the likes of Shirley MacLaine. Unhappy with being limited to practice in a trite desert idiom within the borders of a small state, Predock has deliberately packaged himself for the rise to architectural stardom. At the same time, he has evolved a design approach of great popular appeal that might be better characterized as thoroughly American, rather than as just regional, drawing as it does upon such widely recognized American themes as the highway, the myth of the Marlboro Man, the Strip, the West, and the big landscape. 
 
Back in 1983 Predock was “regional” by default: his Albuquerque practice was only three or four persons strong, and the bulk of its work consisted of single-family custom residences located almost exclusively within New Mexico or Arizona. Today, his office employs over 40 architects involved with the design of such dream projects as hotels for the Disney Corporation, major museums and performing arts centers, pavilions for international exhibitions, and other buildings scattered all over North America and beyond. The contrast between his two addresses to audiences in Oregon, however, was not as pronounced as the changes in his practice would lead one to expect. Predock knew in1983 that he wanted greater recognition for his work. He went on at some length during his lecture at the university about how aggressively he solicited the editors of the “glossy” professional journals and the magazines of the popular press for interest in his projects. The work he displayed at that time also showed evidence of his efforts to respond to design problems in unpredictable ways, drawing upon many of the same sources for inspiration that he still utilizes today. Although his work of 1983 may have been confined to a region, I doubt he considered it only regional or vernacular even then. 
 
There is no small irony in the fact that Predock found himself at the Inn of the Seventh Mountain with the question posed “Can there be a Regional Architecture?” To his chagrin, Antoine Predock will probably always first be noted as a force in regionalism before his universal contributions are recognized. 
 
*    *    *    *    *    *
 
Antoine Predock belies the widely held belief that large and complex projects are no longer the product of a singular genius. In my opinion there will always be a place in architecture for individuals who follow their own unique paths toward the creation of projects holding universal appeal, significance, and meaning. 
 
 
(1)  Being from the Great White North myself, my Canadian brethren may forgive me for wielding a broadly stereotyping brush.   

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shared Vision

Bob Simmons, FCSI, CCPR speaking at the January 22, 2015 Willamette Valley Chapter CSI meeting (photo by Steven Leuck, CSI, CDT)
 
The first Willamette Valley Chapter CSI meeting of 2015 featured Robert W. Simmons, FCSI, CCPR, current president of the Construction Specifications Institute. A relatively small but dedicated gathering of members was on hand to hear Bob present a version of his “Shared Vision” speech, which he first delivered at the CONSTRUCT conference in Baltimore last September. 
 
What will CSI look like in five years? That was the question Bob posed and one he most resolutely believes the institute is ready to answer. Despite declining membership during the Great Recession, he is confident CSI will not only rebound but thrive in an era when other professional associations are struggling to survive and remain relevant. He explained how CSI is moving strategically toward value propositions that will position the organization as the preeminent educator of the construction industry. There is no doubt he trusts educational offerings will drive CSI’s membership and growth in the future. 
 
Bob cited a number of current and proposed programs as evidence of CSI’s commitment in this regard: 
  • The annual CONSTRUCT show, with its plethora of professional development courses supporting personal and professional growth.
  • The CSI Academies, which foster broader industry participation by teaching construction industry skills and sharing research and technology.
  • The Building Technology Education Task Team and its recommendation to create a Building Technology Education Program that would benefit the industry by raising the technical knowledge of participants.
  • BSD SpecLink, the most advanced master guide specification system available.
  • The Master Specifiers Retreat, which brings together senior specifiers from across the country for a focused weekend of education and group networking.
  • CSI’s popular certification programs, which are recognized throughout the industry as evidence of a proven level of education, knowledge, and experience in construction documents.
  • CSI’s various practice guides and workbooks, which are updated regularly to ensure they remain cutting-edge document tools.
  • Creative outreach to affiliated industry and allied organizations like Construction Specifications Canada, the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Professional Estimators, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, expanding mutual influences through education and certification.
Bob rhapsodized about how CSI has streamlined these and other programs to better serve our industry, focusing on those that best support CSI’s membership and mission. He spoke of “building for the future to make CSI a valuable resource in the 21st century to our membership, allied partners, and the construction industry.” He firmly believes CSI is fulfilling its promise of value to current and prospective members by emphasizing educational opportunities as its primary platform. 

I appreciated Bob’s rhetorical flourish and enthusiasm for the strategic initiatives he is championing; that being said, the institute must truly deliver on these promises of value lest we find ourselves regarding his words as mere platitudes. In my opinion the future success of CSI is entirely dependent upon embracing change and seizing a leadership role in a constantly evolving construction industry. Simply reacting to forces beyond our control will not turn the tide of membership loss. 


Is membership growth essential to CSI's future?
There’s no doubt education is the key to expanding professional opportunities. Part of the institute’s current educational strategy is to make many of its programs available online and otherwise to non-members. By providing valuable content this way, CSI’s hope is to broaden its reach. In turn, the institute would expand its base, attracting more people to the organization.

Like other common-interest groups or associations that formed in pre-Internet days, CSI is confronting the fact there are so many other ways for people to spend their diminishing discretionary time. Young professionals in particular seem to have limited time for or interest in volunteer and membership activities after work and family obligations. As Bob reported, CSI has in response been re-tooling its programs to offer more “value” to help recruit and retain members.

What previously served as a raison d’être for membership—access to an industry-specific body of knowledge that was otherwise hard to come by—has been thrown aside by universal Internet access. People don’t want to pay memberships fees for content they can easily get for little or no cost elsewhere. Why buy a cow when you can get the milk for free?

Membership is essential to the success of most professional associations; however, the pace and unpredictability of forces beyond their control brings into question the tenet that membership should be a principal measure of success. Perhaps Bob’s “build it and they will come” educational strategy is correct. Perhaps CSI’s membership growth should hinge upon first attracting young professionals to a broad menu of relevant and effective educational offerings. Perhaps these future industry leaders will become CSI members because they understand how CSI can help them.

I still believe membership in the organization has other benefits. First and foremost is the social capital it confers. Before I became a CSI member, my contacts among the many non-architect participants involved with construction projects were most often limited to job-related exchanges. Seldom were my encounters of an informal or social nature with contractors or the others. My association with the Willamette Valley Chapter broke down the unspoken barriers I was accustomed to, allowing me to develop meaningful cross-disciplinary relationships. Today, these relationships have improved my effectiveness as an architect. There’s no substitute for mutual respect and friendship when it comes to working together to successfully complete complex and difficult projects.

Another huge reason why membership in CSI should be regarded as essential is precisely the tidal wave of information we all manage on a daily basis in order to be effective construction professionals. This holds true whether you’re an architect, a specifier, a contractor, a construction products representative, or a building owner.

I wrote a post a while back about how there exists an opportunity for CSI to seize the proverbial brass ring, one it may lose if it doesn’t act soon and decisively. I pointed out how construction is increasingly dependent upon the effective conveyance of design intent. Our world is only becoming more complex and litigious, not less, and achieving a desired end is commensurately more difficult. The bottom line is clear, concise, complete, and correct construction documents will always be critical to the success of projects. This is the message the institute needs to spread.

CSI should own the training ground for the digital information gatekeepers that everyone—architects, engineers, contractors, and facility managers—will rely upon during design, construction, and beyond. These “knowledge managers” will help realize the full potential of Building Information Modeling and perhaps tilt the project-control pendulum back toward architects, who have abdicated so much in recent decades to others more willing to assume the mantle of master builder (as Bob says, CSI should “own BIM”).

Should this scenario play itself out, society will regard those well-versed in construction communications as among the most valued members of the design and construction industry. Rather than fated for obsolescence as some in the industry are predicting, specification writing and construction information management may be the sector best poised for significant growth within the industry. In particular, specifiers are and will continue to be the indispensable managers of a project’s DNA—the information essential to its successful realization.

Emerging professionals should recognize that a career dedicated to the management of a project’s knowledge base can be both intellectually and professionally rewarding, not to mention lucrative. Being a member of the Construction Specifications Institute should be cool because real power and authority comes with being a knowledge manager. I contend this is essential to attracting and retaining those of the millennial generation all professional associations covet the most: the smart future leaders who will shape our industry for decades to come.

There needs to be a cachet that comes with CSI membership, and that should be the privilege to associate with like-minded thinkers who appreciate and promote excellence in construction documentation and communication. Like Bob, I think education is a key. I also happen to believe we shouldn’t undersell what comes with the full value of membership. If CSI doesn’t manage its message well, it will continue to “gray” and lose members to age and retirement. That would be a shame and a golden opportunity will have passed us by. If done well, the institute will buck trends by growing and thriving in an era when other professional associations are losing influence.

*    *     *     *     *     *
 
Thanks to Bob for visiting the Willamette Valley Chapter and describing for us his vision for the future of CSI. His tenure as CSI’s president lasts through June of this year. He is also the president/CEO of his own company, RW Simmons & Associates, an independent product representative firm located in Federal Way, Washington. Bob is a member of three Northwest chapters (Puget Sound, Mt Rainier, and Big Sky), and has served in leadership roles at all levels of CSI. You can reach him via e-mail at arobertwsimmons@cs.com.