The Construction History Society of America is proud to have hosted the 5th International Congress on Construction History from June 3rd to 7th, 2015 at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago. This was the first time the Congress was held outside Europe, following the four previous events hosted by Madrid (2003), Cambridge (2006), Cottbus (2009) and Paris (2012).

Nearly three hundred delegates attended the Congress representing twenty-one countries and six continents.  Papers were presented on topics ranging from construction guilds and unions, to the evolution of building materials, as well as the construction of specific buildings and types. Presenters included academics, architects, engineers, historic preservationists, and contractors, amongst others. Proceedings of the Congress may be ordered in three volumes (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3).

Five keynote speakers presented fascinating papers at the Congress:

  • William F. Baker, PE, SE, FASCE, FISTRUCTE, Structural and Civil Engineering Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP: “Frank Lloyd Wright and the Mile High Tower
  • Stella Nair, Associate Professor, Arts of the Americas, UCLA Assistant Professor, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA: “Master Masons of the High Andes: Tracing Inca and Tiahuanaco Stone Carving Traditions
  • Thomas Leslie, Pickard Chilton Professor, Architecture Associate Professor, Iowa State University College of Design: “Construction History in Chicago: Why We’re Here
  • Santiago Huerta, Professor, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain: “Construction History: the Building of a Discipline” (pdf)
  • Dr. James Campbell, Senior University Lecturer (Department of Architecture) Fellow and Director of Studies, Queens College, Cambridge, UK: “Bricks, Books, Cathedrals, Staircases and Libraries

Eight tours were offered, including a walking tour by Tom Leslie of the architectural marvels of the Loop, a tour of the bridges over the Chicago River by Patrick T. McBriarty, a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s local treasures in Oak Park, and a tour of IIT and the Farnsworth house to explore Mies’ masterpieces.