75th Anniversary

75th Anniversary - CSI Timeline

A Vision for the Future  

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) was founded on March 8, 1948, primarily by a group of specification writers from various government agencies who sought to establish order amidst the chaos of the post-World War II construction boom. The new organization’s vision was to create the standards and best practices to build architectural projects, public works projects, municipal facilities, and roads and bridges for the future of society.

Education and Certification   

Over the last 75 years, CSI developed a laser focus on specification information and education that has made it the essential source for professional development in the architecture, engineering, construction, and owner (AECO) industry. The CCS®, CCCA®, CCPR™, and CDT® certifications are the calling cards of AECO professionals who sweat the details, ensuring that every construction process is complete and thorough.   

A Professional Community   

In May 1951, the association granted its 1st Charter to the Metropolitan New York City Chapter, essentially opening the door for CSI members to establish a collaborative, supportive network of colleagues and friends within their own region. Metropolitan D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento chartered chapters soon after. There are more than 100 CSI Chapters across the country.   

Coast to Coast Consistency   

As communication and collaboration increased, the innovation and implementation of best practices developed rapidly. In the 1960s, CSI introduced The Master Specification System, a landmark step toward uniform communications and standards in the construction industry. Building on that success, in 1978, CSI—in collaboration with Construction Specifications Canada—published MasterFormat®, the industry’s gold standard for organizing and communicating specifications and work results for construction projects. The most recently updated edition was published in 2020.   

Innovating for the Industry   

With Uniformat®, the standard for classifying building specifications, cost estimating, and cost analysis in North America, and OmniClass® (which combines key elements of MasterFormat and UniFormat), the comprehensive classification system for building lifecycle and project management, CSI continues to meet the market’s current needs while anticipating trends for the future.   

Specification and Clarification

CSI first published SectionFormat™ in 1969 and PageFormat™ in 1975. In 2009, CSI joined with Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) to produce a 2nd printing that combined the two recommended formatting standards into one publication, providing a uniform approach to organizing and presenting specification sections.

SectionFormat is for arranging specification text in a project manual's sections using a three-part format to reduce the chance of omissions or duplications. PageFormat offers a recommended arrangement of text on a specification page within a project manual as a framework for consistently formatting and designating articles. 

Setting the Stage for the Future   

To continue serving AECO professionals on whatever platform they choose, in December 2021, CSI introduced Crosswalk®, a digital tool for process optimization that can instantly trans-classify data between essential standards such as MasterFormat, OmniClass, and UniFormat.

Celebrating Accomplishments and Opportunities   

At the first annual Construction Specifications Institute Convention, held in 1959 in Washington, D.C., the CSI Board of Directors first voted to honor outstanding individuals by deciding to elevate to Fellowship those members whose efforts on behalf of the Institute's purposes and principles have been exemplary. Each year CSI welcomes new members to the College of Fellows. Both those traditions continue to this day and will be celebrated—along with CSI’s 75th Anniversary—at the 2023 CSI National Conference, October 46, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

The Progress Continues   

CSI continues to evolve to meet the needs of the AECO industry, especially in the areas of emerging tools, trends, and issues of sustainability. With a robust and diversified membership base of allied professionals involved in the creation and management of the built environment, CSI is the hub of the built environment, providing a welcoming place to communicate and collaborate on creating structures that directly provide value and inspiration to society.