The CHSA organized three construction-history events in 2016. These include:

  • A one-day symposium at the University of Minnesota on November 7, 2016. University of Minnesota, LearningLife – College of Continuing Education, “The Crystal Palace: Triumph of Design, Engineering, and English Society” with Brian Bowen, A. Peter Hilger, and Sir Joseph Paxton.
  • A construction history track at the AIA Minnesota 2016 Convention on November 8, 2016, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  A CHSA Two-in-One Program, “Transatlantic Cooperation in Construction Management: The Building of the Westinghouse Plan” by Brian Bowen, and “Reliance on Design: Roosevelt, Drydocks, and the Spearin Doctrine” by Jeffrey L. Beard, PhD.
  • The CHSA 5th Biennial Meeting, May 26-28, 2016 in Austin Texas.
CHSA 5th Biennial Meeting, May 26-28, 2016, Austin, Texas

AudienceThe History of Construction has evolved by experimentation, refinement, and by the transference of knowledge across different cultures and continents. The cross pollination of ideas, methods of construction, and even styles is characteristic of the development of the architectural discipline. In the Americas these encounters of cultures and modes of operation have created a rich scenario in which buildings emerge as result of the cultural exchange, insertion of new social orders, industrialization, and adoption of new technologies. As cities change and mature the exchange and influences have become an intrinsic part of this ongoing evolution (and revolution) that impacts the built environment and its methods of materialization.

BEARDThis conference sought to establish a discussion within the frame of the knowledge exchange and building technology transfer. Presentations depicted the spectrum of scenarios, building solutions, industry, and cultural transformations that are the result of those exchanges and transferences. The discussion reflected on the assimilations, education, and transformation processes necessary when importing or exporting building technology reflecting on the particular solutions that emerged from the process itself.


RECEPTION_ExhibitionThursday, May 26th:
5:30pm – CHSA Members Meeting
7:00pm – Reception

Friday, May 27th:
9:00am – Opening Remarks by Fritz Steiner
9:15am – Opening Keynote Lecture “Austin: Growing City Limits” by Dr. Richard Cleary
10:15am – Paper Sessions:

1 – Prefabrication in North America
2 – Shells & Spatial Structures I
3 – Code Theory & Management

SESSION_5_all_authors1:15pm – Paper Sessions:

4 – the 19th Century
5 – Colonial Latin America (16th – 18th Centuries)
6 – Mid-Century Modern Architecture

4:oopm – Paper Sessions:

7 – Pre-Colonial Latin America
8 – Community Based Projects
9 – Bridges

5:00pm – Keynote Address: “Eiffel of Paris, Jenney of Chicago, and their French Engineering Education” by Dr. Tom F. Peters
6:00pm – CHSA Members Happy Hour

SESSION_DeLeonardisSaturday, May 28th:
9:00am – Keynote Lecture “Building Transference Knowledge in Colonial Mexico” by Prof. Roberto Meli
10:15am – Paper Sessions:

10 – Shells & Spatial Structures II
11 – Skin and Guts: Envelope and Mechanical Systems
12 – Construction Units: Terracotta; Glass & Brick

12:15pm – Closing Remarks and Conclusions
1:30pm – Tours

Sunday, May 29th:
Tour: Hill Country Bridges

Keynote Speakers

Dr Richard ClearyDr. Richard Cleary, Page Southerland Page Fellow in Architecture, opened the meeting with his talk Austin, Growing City Limits on the morning of Friday, May 27. Dr. Cleary joined the UT School of Architecture faculty in 1995 and is the author of Bridges (2007), a volume in the Norton/Library of Congress Visual Sourcebooks in Architecture, Design and Engineering, which surveys the history of bridge design in the United States. The Place Royale and Urban Design in the Ancien Regime (Cambridge University Press, 1999), examines the public squares in France designed to honor Kings Louis XIV and Louis XV. Another book and an exhibition, Merchant Prince and Master Builder: Edgar J. Kaufmann and Frank Lloyd Wright (Carnegie Museum of Art and University of Washington Press, 1999), investigates the Kaufmann family’s long association with the architect, which produced Fallingwater, one of the iconic works of the 20th century, and many unrealized projects for Pittsburgh and elsewhere. Dr. Cleary’s current research projects include studies of Frank Lloyd Wright and building technology, for which he recently received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, and of architecture commissioned, designed, or built by French missionaries in Texas in the 19th century.

DrTomFPetersKeynote speaker Dr. Tom F. Peters discussed Eiffel of Paris, Jenney of Chicago, and their French Engineering Education on Friday, May 27. Peters is Lehigh University Emeritus Professor of Architecture and History. His writing ranges from the theory of technological thinking in civil engineering and architectural design, cultural theory in structural engineering, and pedagogical studies on teaching construction and materials, to treatises on construction history, a field he helped develop from the mid 1970s. He is the author of many influential books, reports and articles and is known for his expertise in antiquarian books that deal with civil engineering and construction.

ProfRobertoMeliProfessor Roberto Meli discussed Building Transference Knowledge in Colonial Mexico on Saturday, May 28. Meli is an Emeritus professor at the National University of Mexico where he has taught since 1967. He was visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, in 1987. His research activity has dealt with different topics of the structural behaviour of buildings, mainly regarding the effects of earthquakes on concrete and masonry structures. He has kept a continuous and intense activity on research and consulting on structural safety and rehabilitation of historic buildings, being member of the National Council on Monuments in Mexico and of the International Scientific Council on Analysis and Rehabilitation of Architectural Heritage (ISCARSAH-ICOMOS).



WALKING_tour_groupWalking Tour of Austin

A walking tour of Austin provided insights about the history and legends of this great American city. Sites visited include Austin’s National Historic Landmarks: Texas State Capitol (an Italian Renaissance Revival begun in the 1870s) and the Governors Mansion.


Painted Churches of Texas

This afternoon tour, guided by local historians, offered a visit to Central Texas countryside visiting the historic churches also known as the Painted Churches. These buildings near Schulenburg, Texas reveal the delicate artistry of Czech and German immigrants to this Texan region. Exuberant decorations characterize these historic structures as an example of the cultural transference that took place during the 19th century.

MISSIONS_Group2San Antonia Franciscan Missions

This afternoon tour offered a visit to the National Park of the Franciscan Missions at San Antonio, Texas. These historic landmarks built during the 18th Century have been designated as World Heritage Site within UNESCO’s list. The outstanding craft and elaborate stone carving makes these historic buildings unique in North America. The tour was guided by specialists involved in the restoration and preparation of the nomination dossier submitted to UNESCO.

Bridges – Transportation, Austin and Immediate Surroundings

This tour offered an afternoon visit to three innovative wire-supported structures. These bridges are Central Texas transportation landmarks: a multilevel Post-Modernist interchange, a suspended-deck arch bridge, and a fin-back bridge. Co-lead by a retired TxDOT senior bridge engineer and a TxDOT bridge historian.

Hill Country Bridges Tour – Sunday, May 29th

This day-long tour visited several notable bridges including an extremely rare concrete truss, a rehabilitated suspension bridge constructed by an important Texas builder, and a fin-back. Along the way, attendees viewed a sweeping landscape made legendary by Chester Nimitz, Lyndon Johnson, and Robert E Lee.