Construction History – An Emerging Discipline

The Construction History Society of America (CHSA) is dedicated to the study of the history of construction, and the evolution of all aspects of the built environment including its creation, maintenance and management.  It is a forum for scholars and professionals in the fields of construction history and the built environment to engage, share and exchange ideas and research.

Membership is open to a broad range of professionals in construction-related disciplines, including those involved in the planning, development, design, construction, preservation and operation of buildings and engineering infrastructure. CHSA members share a passion for examining the complexities of how buildings, industrial works, civil engineering and infrastructure projects have been contrived since from the dawn of human activity.

What Is Construction History?

Researchers of construction history recognize the intrinsic human desire to create and to build.  An emerging field, construction history is the investigation of all historic aspects of the built environment:  buildings, structures, builders, architects, engineers, contracting, and construction materials and methods.  It addresses diverse and previously unexamined methods, techniques, practices and motivations, whether small-scale and fine-grained, or broad and international in scope.

What We Do:

  • Examine how various buildings, civil project and industrial works were built and why.
  • Determine what materials and techniques were employed to achieve the resulting projects.
  • Identify initiatives, organizations, economics and legal systems needed to fulfill the past endeavor.
  • Date the project based on origins and accretions over time.
  • Understand the histories of materials, products, equipment and systems comprising the constructed works.
  • Explore the building sciences, technologies and cultures affecting the built environment over time.
  • Interpret the meanings of built works to assist contemporary planners, designers, craftpersons and future historians.
  • Provide intensive research into under-explored areas that can lead to increased knowledge, enhanced understanding of heritage or better preservation practice.

Recent Events

AudienceOur successful CHSA 5th Biennial Meeting in May 2016 at the University of Texas at Austin was hosted by the School of Architecture (UTSOA).  The theme of knowledge exchange and building technology transfer – the dispersal and transfiguration of building ideas from old Europe to the New World – produced close to 50 presentations which depicted 500 years of industry growth, creative building solutions and cultural transformations in North, Central and South America.  Twelve academic sessions, four guided tours and invited lectures by Dr. Richard Cleary, Tom F. Peters and Roberto Meli generated careful thought and spirited discussion as well as new friendships and collaborations.

Close to 300 delegates from over 20 countries attended the 5th International Congress on Construction History (5ICCH) in Chicago, with five keynotes, eight tours and over 200 academic papers presented.  Over 32 Institutional and Corporate sponsors helped make the first International Congress on Construction History held outside of Europe one of the most successful ever!  Proceedings from the Congress are available to purchase online (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3).

The Construction History Society of America – Promoting an Emerging Discipline

Research Alerts: Submit a specific research question to be emailed to all CHSA members in one of our regular membership updates.

Research Repository – coming this autumn!

  • Let colleagues know when your new book is published!
  • Review Members’ Construction History syllabi and be inspired to add a Construction History module into your class