The end of World War II had the effect of transforming the country and created a rapidly growing economy that was in need of all types of new facilities. At that time each architectural/engineering firm and government agency had its own unique way producing drawings and specifications for construction. In 1947, a group of architects and engineers employed by the federal government, together with a few architects from the private sector, met to discuss the problems caused by the lack of uniformity in construction documentation. During the course of these discussion a plan emerged to establish an organization that could work to develop a common communication system for the industry. As a result of lengthy discussions it was determined that this organization would be devoted primarily to improvement of construction specifications, and on March 8, 1948 “The Construction Specifications Institute” was incorporated in the State of Maryland. The stated objectives of the Institute at that time were to provide a forum for exchange of information among architects, engineers and others in the construction industry with a particular objective of improving the quality of construction specifications.
The first annual meeting was held in 1948 with 45 active members and shortly thereafter the first quarterly issue of the “Construction Specifier” was published. Two years later, a group of members in New York City applied to the Institute for charter as a chapterand in May of 1951 the Institute Board granted its 1st Charter to the Metropolitan New York City Chapter. Additional Chapters were chartered for the Metropolitan D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles Chapter and San Diego, and Sacramento was the 6th Chapter. Originally chartered as the “Northern California Chapter” on September 20th 1954, with thirteen members.
The first Annual Institute Convention was held in Washington D.C. and the Institute Board established the 12 Regions in 1957, with the West Region comprised of the Northern California, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego Chapters. The chapter was renamed the “Sacramento Chapter” in August of 1959.
The framework for Institute Awards was initiated in 1956 to encourage and recognize the outstanding work of members. The first Jury of Fellows was appointed in 1961 and inducted Rolf T. Retz, FCSI as a member of the first Class of Fellows. Subsequently William Vickers, FCSI was elevated to Fellowship in 1967, Christopher Delgato, FCSI in 1978, Eugene Cottrell, FCSI, CCS in 1980, Donald Clark, FCSI, CCS in 1994, Sheryl-Dodd-Hansen, FCSI, CCS in 2002, Barbara Richardson, FCSI in 2003, Kerin Dodd-Hansen, FCSI, CCS in 2006, and Duane Johnson, FCSI, CDT in 2008, from the Sacramento Chapter. Rolf Retz, FCSI was elevated to CSI’s highest award of Honorary Member in 1967.
The Manual of Practice was first presented to the Board by Rolf T. Retz, FCSI, Honorary Member, in 1961 which lead to the formation of a Committee in the Sacramento Chapter which he Chaired, that included William P. Vickers, FCSI and George Lionakis, CSI, in developing the concept of the 16 Division Format that in turn influenced its adoption by the Institute in1963 as the first form of what would become MasterFormat, and the subsequent development of the 3-Part Section Format and Page Format for specifications.
Beginning early in the existence of CSI, members were encouraged to create “Monograph’s” describing the characteristics of materials, products and assemblies, that were initially utilized in the publication of the “Construction Specifier”, but eventually lead to the formalization of the “CSI Monograph Series” that continued in place until the mid 1990's. With the development of the 16 Division Format (in 1967 renamed the “Uniform Construction Index”), Section Format and Page Format, these documents would become the foundation of the development of the “CSI Guide Master Specifications” that initially were developed in the late 1960's as the first Master Specification System and continued in publication until the early 1980's. It in turn encouraged the development of the “CSI Technical Aid Series” that acted as bibliograpy of information supporting each Section of master specifications, the development of standards for product manufacturers “Spec Data Sheets”, and eventually to standards for “ManuSpec” as the first system for manufacturers specification Sections for their specific products.
In support of this effort CSI initiated a program that created the qualifications for, and the examination, that first given 1978, created the “Certified Construction Specifier (CCS)” certification. In 1985 the original CCS examination was revised into two (2) parts, with the first part focusing on on the organization of construction contract documents that was named the “Certified Construction Technologist (CDT)”, the second part became a specific certification of Construction Specifiers. In subsequent years CSI initiated additional qualifications and examinations for “Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA)“ in 19?? and “Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR)” in 199?.
Also in 1978 CSI, in collaboration with Construction Specifications Canada (CSC), published the first 16 Division version of MasterFormat that included Section numbers and titles. Revised versions of the 16 Division MasterFormat were published in 1985 and 1995. Because of changes in scope and methods of project delivery, CSI convened an industry wide committee that studied the expanded needs of the specification process and in 2004 produced the first version of the 49 Division MasterFormat. CSI ceased support of the 16 Division MasterFormat in 2008, thus making the 49 Division version the National Standard for the organization of construction product information and construction specifications.
West Region was incorporated as a professional association on January 9, 1979.
With the advent of personal computers in the early 1980's the “CSI Master Guide Series Specification” were used as the basis for the development by the Construction Sciences Research Foundation of “SpecText” as one of the first computer capable and editable specifications systems. It was expanded and remained and independent system until it was acquired by ARCOM in 2006, and is still offered by them for use alongside MasterSpec and other specifying systems.
In 1989, The CSI recognized the need for an organizational structure and standards for drawings, and in 1994 began development of the Uniform Drawing System (UDS). The first three modules of UDS were published in 1997 and subsequently were submitted to the National Institute of Building Standards (NIBS) CADD Council for consideration as part of a proposed national CAD standard and CSi relinquished control of the document to NIBS who continues to maintain it as the National CAD Standard.
UniFormat was originally developed in 1972 by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for estimating and design cost analysis. In 1989, ASTM International began developing a standard for classifying building elements, based on UniFormat and was renamed to UniFormat II. Begining in 1995, CSI and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) and began to revisions to UniFormat to acomodate systems and assemblies.
In the early 1990's, after discussion with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), CSI embarked on the development of OmniClass. The OmniClass Construction Classification System is a means of organizing and retrieving information consisting of 15 hierarchical tables, each of which represents a different facet of construction information. MasterFormat and Uniformat are both identified as tables in OmniClass and it is the core element of organization for information management in the National BIM Standard.