May 2017 Newsletter Print

The Front Page


The Newsletter of The Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter CSI       May 2017 



10:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.


 10:30 a.m. / Registration & Lunch

11:30 a.m. / Best Ball Shotgun Start 

Dinner and Awards to follow...



Registration deadline is Friday, May 19, 2017



- Individual Golf Package $150 / Includes box lunch, 18 holes of golf, golf cart & BBQ dinner

- Foursome $600 / Includes box lunch, 18 holes of golf, golf cart & BBQ dinner

- Non-Golf Package $15 / Includes BBQ dinner only


- $800 Platinum Sponsor / Includes 4 golfers and Hole sponsorship with sign and Course Game

- $550 Gold Sponsor / Includes 2 golfers and Hole sponsorship with sign and Course Game

- $300 Silver Sponsor / Includes Hole sponsorship with sign and Course Game

- $750 Golf Cart Sponsor / Your company name and logo on each golf cart

- $500 Food Sponsor / Your company name and logo on signage

- $250 Raffle Prize Sponsor / You provide $250 cash or item valued at $250 for the drawing


For questions about the golf outing, contact Ryan Hallesy at 
612-469-8252 or



Annual Platinum Partners... 


Annual Gold Partners...

Annual Silver Partners...


Back to top

President's Message


President's Message
From the President........


Awards Banquet – May 18

As we spring into summer and start to enjoy the sun and fun, I get to reflect on this year’s past events and the effort of everybody who contributed to the success of CSI-MSP. Best of all, we get to recognize and reward this hard work and dedication at our annual Awards Ceremony, Thursday, May 18 at the St. Paul Depot. Please register to attend and enjoy a festive night of celebration, dinner, drinks, tours and as much fun as you can handle!  

A tour starts at 4:00 PM with a presentation on the history and renovation of the Union Depot. If you haven’t seen the Depot’s transformation into a new, dynamic transportation hub, you’ll be amazed with the results. Thank you for the efforts of Tohnya Adams, Rick Nichols, James Bergevin and the rest of the Award’s Committee for putting together a solid program that recognizes the enormous effort of volunteers who make our chapter one of the best in the nation. In addition to the awards, we’ll swear-in new Board of Director’s Kasey Howard and Mark McPherson (Dave Rasmussen “re-sworn”), and Andy Garner as your new President.

Please register here for tours and dinner celebration:

New Member Orientation – Thursday, May 11

All new members are invited for lunch and CSI-MSP’s New Member Orientation at Pella’s office, 15300 25th Ave North in Plymouth on Thursday, May 11 from 11:15 AM – 1:00 PM. Please join Membership Committee Chair Gary Patrick and other CSI leaders for lunch and find out everything CSI has to offer and the many opportunities available to make it more valuable.

Even If you’re not a new member and want to learn more about CSI-MSP please register here:

Lunch is free and we hope to see you there!

Golf Outing – Thursday, June 1

Thursday, June 1st is the date for our annual Golf Outing at Bunker Hills Golf Club from 10:30 – 7:00 pm. Put your foursome together and battle it out for bragging rights and win our version of the Claret Jug. Or something similar. We appreciate the hole sponsors and value all the contributions that go to growing our Scholarship Fund.

Deadline for registering is May 19.

Please go here to register for golf and sponsorship packages:

Please remember we upped our Scholarship contribution over $1000 this year because of the Golf Outing. Thank you to Ryan Hallesy once again for his stellar effort in organizing this important event that gets better year after year.

CSI Construct National Convention – September 13-15

This year’s convention will be in Providence, Rhode Island September 13-15 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, R.I. - featuring 50 accredited education classes and exhibition hall filled with the latest services, products and technologies. This conference presents a myriad of networking opportunities through tours, receptions and other social events.

Please go here for more information:

In Closing

As I mentioned at the last program meeting at Grumpy’s on the new U of M Athletes Village, we really need at least four people to step up and help on committees. Because of the extraordinary people who volunteer their time and effort, CSI-MSP is one of largest and most recognized CSI Chapters in the country. I’m very proud of this chapter and every member needs to understand that it takes a lot of time to keep the machine humming at a high level. The more people that help, the less burden it is on the committee leaders. What you put into CSI is what you get out of CSI, and joining a committee will help get you a better return on your membership and create a more rewarding experience.

The Program Committee is already working on plans for next year, so now is the time to step in and help make an impact shaping next year’s list of programs. Communications is looking for someone to help with the newsletter and updating the website. This is a great opportunity to support us with communication, marketing and other messaging strategy.

I look forward to seeing everybody at the North Central Region Conference in Madison this Thursday through Saturday.

Please feel free to ask me any questions, voice any concerns, or drop me a line on any other issues you’d like to discuss: I’m interested in hearing from you!


George Ramsay, CSI, CDT

Chapter President FY 2017


Back to top

Last Chapter Program



The University of Minnesota Athletes’ Village

Setting Athletes up for Success

April 17, 2017

April Showers bring May flowers.  April also brings athlete recruits.  The University of Minnesota is developing a way to engage and grow these students.

It’s All About Recruiting

The intent of the “Athletes’ Village” is to recruit the top talent from teens across the country, train them to be top performers, feed them well to grow strong, and educate them for success after college.  The 16- and 17-year-olds look for flashy and exciting environments enticing them to select their college, whereas their parents get excited about the focus on nutrition and academic support.  This project combines those goals for all of these endeavors.

Current Facilities

The 30-year-old basketball and football training areas are outdated.  After building the TCF Bank Stadium, the University was seeking to improve their basketball and football training centers. They found, when recruiting, that their facilities had fallen behind the other Big Ten Conference schools making it more difficult to draw talent.  In addition, student athletic programs have grown to encompass the full student need, which requires larger, more modern classrooms and unique program offerings. 

The Plan

Populous, from Kansas City, performed a needs assessment, finding that academic support and nutritional awareness were missing from the program.  Students would eat whatever they had in their apartments or from the campus meal plan.  But a nutrition center ensures well-balanced meals and teaches athlete students how to prepare healthy meals.  

BWBR and RDG partnered to design and fulfill the needs for updated indoor practice facilities and created a unified state-of-the-art complex.  Each practice area, field and court, is supported with associated offices, lockers, training rooms, equipment rooms and lounges on the same level as their sports program.

The University of Minnesota also wanted to make a splash at the entry, for the recruit’s first impression. The exterior of colorful corrugated metal panels and acid-etched and sandblasted precast identify the separate areas yet unify the entire complex.  Achieving the right maroon color was the hardest part, concerned about fading so over time the students won’t have to play in a pink facility.  

The pop, “WOW” factor of the front lobby includes changing graphic signage geared towards the electronics-addicted youth. A video ribbon and projection wall can be tailored to the individual recruit that day and draws kids in like candy.

Athletes Village includes 35 tutoring rooms to help the student athletes academically.  Not all athletes will continue to pursue their athletic careers professionally, so the fifth floor Center for Excellence is a leadership development area to introduce these students to local employers in an effort to keep them in the metro area. 


Overcoming obstacles is not just a challenge for the athletes. With varying easements and tons of utilities crisscrossing the site, including areas requiring soils correction, just getting the project off the ground was the first hurdle.  An extremely fast schedule, multiple design players with varying opinions, turnover of staff including 3 football coaches and tight budgets provided other hurdles. 

Distance to the main campus was another hoop, as even though these are athletes, they don’t want to walk too far to this new development.  Parking for bikes and mopeds are incorporated for the students.


The 85’ to the underside of the truss will enable the U of M to have one of the best punters in the country when done.  Duct socks allow flexibility so the mechanical distribution is not damaged by plays.  The football lounge provides a connected view, over the football training field, of TCF field beyond.

Multiple glazing features were included.  Electrochromatic glazing provides security and allows darkening for the students in select locations.  Aware of the project’s location in the migration path of many species, bird-safe glazing with ceramic frit designs avoids bird kills by helping make visible that transparent plane.  Movable glass walls were used for visibility at the lounge overlooking the court. 

Noise from weights dropped on the second floor weight room caused this location to be reconsidered and they moved the weight room to the first floor.  To resolve noise from the basketball court overhead, the design team took a lesson from the new Timberwolves court and added 2” of insulation and an additional 1” of concrete for a 7” deep floor section.

A Winning Solution

Thanks to Dustin Rehkamp, BWBR, Dan Treinen, BWBR, Joe Pritzkow, Mortenson, and of course, Scott Ellison, University of Minnesota, for sharing their behind-the-scenes stories and images.  After move in for the programs and the students, Scott Ellison promised, “Spring 2018, wins are guaranteed.”

Back to top

Upcoming Events



Local Construction Associations

(check respective websites for complete listings)





See Website Academic or Alumni

Dunwoody Institute        


Events of interest nearly Day – See Website

University of Minnesota – College of Design- School of Architecture       


Spring Conference –Grand Rapids

American Public Works  Association


Technology in Architecture

AIA MN Chapter – American Institute of Architects


Chapter Meeting

NAWIC- National Assoc. of Women  in Construction – Mpls. – St. Paul


Mpls Chapter Luncheon

AIA MN Chapter – American Institute of Architects


67th Annual Mtg & Awards

American Council of Engineering.Companies.  MN


May General Meeting

BOMA – Minneapolis – Building Owners and Managers Association


Step Up &Achieve - Happy Hour      

ASLA – American Society of Landscape Architects Minnesota


NRRA Annual Pavement Conf.

Concrete Paving Assoc. of Minnesota


Golf Outing



Summer Quarterly Meeting

AGC  Associate General Contractors



Back to top

Chapter Membership Committee News


Click HERE for the new Membership Enrollment Form

Ask the Membership Commitee Chair:

Gary Patrick at 763-546-3434 or

Or contact the CSI-MSP Chapter Administrator

Vicky Olson at 952-564-3044 or

Back to top

Chapter Partnerships and Sponsorships




Would you like your company to come to mind first when a CSI member needs the services your company provides? 

Your company logo would be prominently displayed on all emails from the chapter (4 – 5 emails sent each month to 950 contacts each time), at all monthly programs (80 – 100 members), in the monthly Specifics (sent to 700+), on the pages of the CSI chapter website, at EVERY CSI event on each table and in the PowerPoint!

Your company could have quarter page ads or a featured article in the monthly Specifics (sent to 700+), or the opportunity to feature your company with a table top display at a monthly meeting.

If you answered yes, please send an email to and put “Need a Call” in the subject line and include your contact information.  You will be contacted by a CSI member.

Would you like to lend your company’s support to CSI events like the Annual Golf Outing or the Annual Awards Banquet?

If you answered yes, please send an email to and put “Sponsorship Call Needed” in the subject line and include your contact information.  You will be contacted by a CSI member.

Did you previously have a business listing or business card ad in the Resource Directory section of the printed CSI Chapter Directory? 

If you answered yes to the above, there are advertising options available for your company on the website and in the monthly Specifics.  Please send an email to and put “Advertising Call Needed” in the subject line and include your contact information. You will be contacted by a CSI member.

Your Partnership with the MSP Chapter at any level is your company’s path to visibility with decision makers in the design and construction industry. Your support also enables the continuation of high-caliber programs and events and networking among all parts of the building team.  Your participation is valued by all CSI members.

Chapter Partnerships

Platinum Partnerships
612-867-5173     651.704.0300 952-462-5359
 800.321.8194   763.546.3434    

763.544.0365 763.592.8640    
952-854-8723 612.349.9885    


Gold Partnerships



Silver Partnerships      



Back to top

Rebecca Foss Scholarship Committee

Rebecca Foss Scholarship Committee Now Forming!

CSI-MSP wants to increase the scholarship funds and improve the scholarship program

Needed: Several people to organize and promote fund raisers during chapter meetings and events


 Let’s help get the next generation into the construction industry.

Our next emerging professionals and new members are undergraduates right now!

Interested in joining the Rebecca Foss Scholarship Committee?

Contact: Vicky Olson, Chapter Administrator,

at 952-564-3044 or

Back to top


Reported by Jerry A. Putnam, RA, FCSI, CCS, Institute Vice-President

Last month I reported the results of the 2017 CSi Board of Directors election. Well you might find, as I did, the actual numbers of votes that were cast, was less than outstanding. But our own North Central Region, being the largest region of CSI had the highest percentage of votes cast at 18% in comparison to the nationwide average of 14%. Here are the results.


Eligible Voters

Ballots Cast

Participation Percentage

Great Lakes Region




Gulf States Region








Middle Atlantic Region




North Central Region




Northeast Region




Northwest Region




South Central Region




Southeast Region




Southwest Region




West Region




All Eligible Voters






Back to top



Read the North Central Region Newsletter!

see the link below

North Central Region Newsletter


Back to top

Specific Thoughts


Small brush with fame

One of the most treasured awards I received from CSI is the Ben John Small Memorial Award. First presented in 1996, and limited to one per year, only eleven people have received this award.

The award, originally intended "to honor those who have achieved outstanding stature and proficiency as specifiers," is named after Ben John Small, charter member and president of the Metropolitan New York Chapter. Ben was well known as an educator; he was a frequent lecturer at Columbia University, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He wrote columns for Pencil Points Magazine, which later became Progressive Architecture. He also wrote a number of books, including Architectural Practice, Building check list, and Streamlined specifications standards. (I have two of these books in my library.)

A couple of years after receiving the award, I was at the CSI office in Alexandria for an Institute board meeting. I recalled seeing an article about Ben John Small in the Construction Specifier, but all I could remember was that his son worked at the Smithsonian. I had a little extra time before my flight, so I went to the Smithsonian in hopes of meeting him.

I started my search at the information desk. "I'm looking for someone named Small. Do you know where I could find him?"

With a somewhat stern look, the receptionist replied, "Mr. Small is on the hill today. What did you want to see him about?"

I told her the Small I was looking for might be the son of Ben John Small. She asked for my phone number and said she would pass it on. And that, I thought, was that.

 Later that day, as I was leaving for the airport, my cell phone rang.

"Is this Sheldon Wolfe?"

 "Yes. What can I do for you?"

"This is Lawrence Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian. I heard you stopped in to see me." You can imagine my surprise as I realized that this wasn't just some guy who worked at the Smithsonian, but the boss!

Mr. Small invited me to come back, but I didn't have time. He then told me to call him in advance the next time I was in Washington. I took him up on his offer and called before the next board meeting. After greeting me on the first floor, he gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of the Castle (the administrative home of the Smithsonian). His office was a museum in itself, with a space suit, the Lone Ranger's mask, a watch that was worn by an astronaut, and several other unique items on display. How much fun would it be to decorate your office with the entire Smithsonian to draw from?!

After talking about a controversial exhibit that included the nose of the Enola Gay, the B-29 used to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Lawrence told me an interesting story about the end of World War II. The story involved a pink cap that is part of the "Price of Freedom" exhibit in the Smithsonian. The cap belonged to Sandra Roche, who was born in 1945 in a Japanese internment camp in Weihsien, China (now Weifang). Food in the camp was inadequate, and Sandra developed rickets. The camp was liberated by seven American paratroopers 17 August 1945, just three days after Japan surrendered. Sandra's mother asked the paratroopers to sign the pink cap; she then used blue thread to embroider their signatures onto the cap.

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story." About twenty years later, Lawrence met Sandra, and they were married in 1967.

Awards often mean little to people who don't belong to the organization that presents them. While the awards may be appreciated by members of the organization, and may contribute to obtaining other awards or honors, they typically don't have much impact on the recipient's job or career. The reason, of course, is that people outside of the organization don't know about the awards. Most people don't blow their own horns, so unless someone else does something to publicize awards, they remain secret.

CSI has a great history of preaching to the choir. It's fine to tell each other about what we're doing or what we've done, but shouldn't we also tell the rest of the world? If you're bringing in an expert, a top-notch speaker, or a celebrity to address a chapter meeting, spread the word! The construction community is the obvious target, but there are times when the general public should be invited. Many chapters have had a Frank Lloyd Wright impersonator speak, but how many realized that people who aren't involved in construction are FLW fans and invited them?

Promoting outside the chapter or region also applies to awards and honors. Awards committees at all levels should make notification part of their process. In most cases, it could be as simple as telling the recipient's boss about the award. My preference would be to use a card or a letter, but even an email would work. For more important awards, a press release could be sent to local newspapers.

Awards acknowledge the contributions of members within the organization, but they also can be a positive influence on members' careers. 

© 2017, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments at

For more information…

Historians Protest New Enola Gay Exhibit

Pink cap exhibit

History of the Weihsien camp

Back to top


The Race Underground:  Boston, New York and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway

Author Doug Most's book isn't so much about a race as much as it is a chronicle of the rivalries between the men involved.  Boston's subway was completed in 1897 before construction had even started in New York.  The book is most importantly the story of the men who were behind the subway financing and construction in both cities during the Gilded Age of the late 19th Century.  The Whitney brothers, William Sprague, William Steinway, August Belmont, and John McDonald to name a few.  These men had the foresight, ingenuity, determination, and raised the money to literally change the face of large American cities forever.

The last half of the 19th Century saw many breakthrough civil engineering projects such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Erie and Panama Canals, and the Transcontinental Railroad.  Thomas Edison had begun lighting the world with his electric  light bulbs and Henry Ford was about to launch his first automobile. Elisha Otis had invented the passenger elevator.  But the development of the subway solved an everyday problem that confronted everyone living in large cities; the inability of people to get across town without taking, literally, a half a day to do it.  Prior to the construction of the first subways, (London in 1863 and Boston in 1897), pedestrians, horse drawn streetcars, wagons, and carriages so clogged city streets that traffic was in perpetual gridlock.  Add to that the mess and smell of horse manure on  warm or rainy days and you can understand the impetus for a solution to the problem.

The subway was not the first mass transit solution proposed.  Elevated trains had already been constructed in portions of New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago by the 1870s.  These were noisy, didn't have sufficient capacity, and filled the air with choking smoke from their coal burning steam engines.  Steam locomotives were also used in the first subway constructed in London.  This made riding subways there dirty and the air was chokingly difficult to breathe.  Street cars powered by underground cables were also used with limited success in parts of Philadelphia and New York but, again, they were expensive, didn't have the capacity to solve the problem of congestion and were, in fact, creating more congestion.

The first operational subway was constructed in New York by Alfred Beach in 1870.  While this was only 300 ft. long it successfully demonstrated the potential to the 400,000 people who rode it in the year it was operational.  Beach's subway cars were propelled by forced air, like capsules in a pneumatic tube.  Aside from the significant technical problems with the use of forced air as motive power,  Beach's plan for a subway in NY City was killed by the political powers in control at the time.  The idea of a subway was dead for another 25 years until Henry Whitney's subway was constructed in Boston.

The Whitney brothers, Henry in Boston and William in NY City, (they were of the same socially prominent family for whom the Whitney Museum is named), had street railway company monopolies.  Henry saw efficient mass transit as the key to developing his suburban Boston property and didn't see street railways alone as meeting this need.  In 1887 he proposed digging a subway tunnel below Boston Common and Beacon Hill through which electrically powered trains would operate and connect with his newly electrified suburban, surface street car lines.  Construction of the tunnel would be done by the cut-and-cover method using hand labor and horse drawn wagons for the excavation.  The subway was relatively shallow, up to about 50 ft. below grade, (London's subway by comparison ranged from 100 ft. to 200 ft. below grade).  Sides of the excavations were supported by steel shoring beams.  Waterproofed masonry and concrete tunnel  walls supported steel and timber roof beams.  These in turn carried the waterproofed masonry tunnel top.  Ventilation of the tunnel was critical to its success and was accomplished by electrically powered exhaust fans at each of the eleven stations.

The Boston subway's success was assured when Henry Whitney saw the genius in Frank Sprague's invention of the electric motor as power for his trains.  Sprague had in the 1880s demonstrated that his electric motors were powerful and reliable enough to power street cars over 12 miles of hilly terrain in Richmond, VA.  This lead to numerous orders for Sprague's motors and by 1890 there were over 200 electrified railways in service around the world.  Boston would be added to this group when its 1.8 mile subway opened in September 1897, ahead of schedule and under the $5.0 Million budget.  New Yorkers were watching.

It wasn't until 1894 that New Yorkers voted in favor of issuing City bonds to pay for subway construction.  This followed the collapse of William Steinway's attempt to assemble a team to privately finance construction.  (Steinway was also founder of the Steinway Piano Company in New York.)  In spite of the success of Boston's electric trains, those advocating for New York's subway were not convinced of this approach. It was up to a young engineer, William Parsons as chief engineer for the NY Transit Authority, to convince the Authority that electric power was less costly and allowed for better ventilation in the tunnels.  (Parsons and his younger brother founded present day global engineering giant Parsons.)  On January 15, 1900 bids for construction of the NY subway were opened and local contractor John McDonald had the low offer.  He was awarded the contract for $37.5 Million, backed by financier August Belmont.

Most of the NY subway was built using the same cut-and-cover method used in Boston.  However tunneling through hard rock, (Manhattan schist), was necessary for a good portion of its length and for this dynamiting was used.  In these sections the tunnels were as much as 180 ft. below grade.  Carnegie Steel was awarded the $10 Million contract for the steel beams and columns in the tunnels and for the 600 miles of steel rails, the largest single steel contract awarded up to that time.  By the fall of 1903 the tunneling was complete and the streets above the cut-and-cover tunnels had been restored.  All that was left was the installation of the tracks and the trains.

The subway was opened in October 1904, seven years after Boston was opened and 20 years after the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.  When the subway opened it was 21 miles long and was completed on schedule and on budget.  It was a great credit to Parsons' design, Belmont's money, Sprague's electric motors, and McDonald's construction.

The Race Underground, by Doug Most, was published by St. Martin's Griffin in 2014.  It has 404 pages but only a few photographs and no drawings.


Los Angeles, CA

April 17, 2017



Back to top

What Architects Can Learn From The Beatles

By Bill Schmalz, CSI, CCCA, FAIA, Principal at Perkins+Will, Los Angeles

On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney publicly announced he was leaving the Beatles, effectively ending the group [1]. On that day, he and George Harrison were 27 years old, while John Lennon and Ringo Starr were 29 years old [2]. I mention this because it means that everything the Beatles accomplished as a group, including writing and recording many of the best rock songs ever, revolutionizing the popular music industry, and to at least some extent changing history, was done by people who were not yet 30 years old. At what I consider their peak, from A Hard Day’s Night (album released July 10, 1964) through Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (released June 1, 1967) [3], their ages ranged from 21 (George in 1964) to 26 (Ringo and John in 1967).

My thinking about the Beatles’ ages was sparked when a colleague sent me an online article, “Why the Millennial Architect Won’t Be Your CAD Monkey,” which had been posted back in July 2014, but is still relevant [4]. Its author, Nathaniel Eck, in speaking for his own generation, takes a manifesto approach in addressing the older, non-millennial generations. The article is filled with deliberately incendiary statements, such as “We speak out against the path to licensure,” “We won’t be your CAD monkeys, we won’t jump through hoops or churn through meaningless work,” and “We know that waiting for our dreams to come and ‘putting in our time’ doesn’t [sic] necessarily result in fruitful outcomes.”

The article is thought provoking, but even more interesting are the comments it generated. If Mr. Eck intended to rile people up, he succeeded. Architects representing not only older generations but also millennials responded with such responses as “I am a millennial architect, and this is one of the most embarrassing, narcissistic pieces of garbage I have ever read,” “What a crock of selfish bs,” and “What drivel! If this is the kind of attitude that comes off today, then this profession is seriously screwed.” Mr. Eck certainly touched a sensitive collective professional nerve.

However, rather than sending me off the deep end with outrage, the article made me think how architectural firms treat our emerging professionals [5], especially those in their twenties who are not yet licensed. Are we giving them responsibilities that challenge their creativity, make use of their intelligence, and rouse their passions, or are we, as Mr. Eck claimed, making them perform meaningless, mind-numbing tasks, and justifying it by saying they have to “pay their dues”? I suspect for most of us in leadership roles, it is more often the latter than the former. Yet, these emerging professionals are often no older than the Beatles were when they were revolutionizing pop music.

Make no mistake, the Beatles paid their dues. The group (minus Ringo) played for years as a mostly cover band in dingy clubs and basement holes-in-the-wall [6] in Liverpool and Hamburg before having the good fortune of capturing the attention of manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin. By the time they began their recording career in 1962, they had already mastered their technical musical skills. Those hardscrabble years were the Beatles’ intern development program. Without this experience, there may have been no “A Hard Day’s Night,” no “A Day in the Life,” and no “Revolution 9” (well, maybe that one we could have done without).

However, comparing architects to musicians is perhaps unfair. Maybe the many years of architectural education and the amount of technical knowledge and on-the-job experience needed by architects makes such youthful achievement nearly impossible. So let’s compare architecture to another profession that also entails a lot of technical know-how and experience, such as film direction [8].

Directing a feature film requires (I suspect, having never tried it) a wide range of knowledge and skills, and the ability to coordinate the efforts of hundreds of actors, technicians, and craftspersons, often with millions of dollars on the line, to create films that audiences will want to see and that critics and fellow filmmakers will admire. Let’s look at the ten most recent Oscar-winning directors, and their ages when they shot their first full-length films [9]: Damien Chazelle, 23; Alejandro Iñárritu, 35; Alfonso Cuaron, 29; Ang Lee, 37; Michael Hazanavicius, 25; Tom Hooper, 32; Kathryn Bigelow, 29; Danny Boyle, 31; Joel Coen, 28; and Ethan Coen, 25. Six of them made their first films when they were in their twenties (and two others in their early thirties). So it would seem that even in a highly technical profession, young practitioners can produce significant work. (True, film directors don’t have mandatory educational and internship requirements to get licensed, but I’m not talking about licensure, only of technical proficiency, talent, and creativity.)

Another theme running through the comments on Mr. Eck’s article is that practicing architecture necessarily involves a lot of drudgery, especially when preparing construction documents, and if emerging professionals don’t do the drudge work, who will? Perhaps drudgery is a harsh term, but door schedules, toilet room elevations, and partition details would seem to fit the definition. But to think that at some point in most professionals’ careers the drudgery ends is an illusion. Each of us, at whatever level of the profession we have reached, spends at least part of most days doing work—important work—that is neither fun nor creative, but we plod through it because we know it’s important work, and that doing it may give us more opportunities to do the fun stuff. We know the value of what we’re doing, so we endure it. And maybe the Beatles can teach us a lesson here as well.

Even in their prime, not everything the Beatles did in the studio was exciting. Although many of their songs may sound effortless, it took many days of hard and sometimes tedious work to achieve that effect. We know this because EMI’s Abbey Road studio kept a log of every Beatles session, which Mark Lewisohn documented in his book The Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes 1962–1970. He gives us glimpses of the group’s considerable efforts to get ever closer to perfection. Here are a few examples from just one year (including the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper sessions) [7]:

  • April 16, 1966: “Eleven hours completing ‘Rain,’ first superimposing tambourine, bass and more vocals, then doing a tape-to-tape reduction to add more overdubs, then producing four mono remixes.”
  • April 20, 1966: “A twelve-hour session producing two takes of one song [‘And Your Bird Can Sing’] and four of another [‘Taxman’]—nothing of which was ever released in this form.”
  • May 16, 1966: “A day of overdubs and mixing and … of copying some of the best mixes to date. ‘Taxman’ finally received its ‘One, two, three, four’ intro and Paul overdubbed the lead vocal onto take 10 of ‘For No One.’”
  • June 16, 1966: “The best part of a further nine hours on ‘Here, There and Everywhere,’ with nine more takes and overdubs onto the best rhythm track, take 13.”
  • June 21, 1966: “It took just shy of nine hours to record ‘She Said, She Said,’ the group spending most of the time rehearsing through at least 25 takes.”
  • December 8, 1966: “By the end of the session 15 more takes had been recorded [for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’].”
  • January 6, 1967: “Yet more overdubbing onto the tape of ‘Penny Lane.’”
  • February 3, 1967: “More overdubs onto take six of ‘A Day in the Life.’”
  • March 31, 1967: The group worked on “fifteen mono remixes of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ … before everyone was satisfied.”


That the Beatles were probably not griping about “yet more overdubbing” or “a day of overdubs and mixing” is because they understood the value of what they were doing, and how it would make a difference in the final product. Perhaps if architectural team leaders explained the importance of every task, telling the junior team members not only what the task is but also why the task must be done well, those team members would take more pride, more care, and more interest in completing tasks that are no longer meaningless.

Of course, the Beatles also had many days when they created magic. Take, for example, February 10, 1967, when the orchestral coda to “A Day in the Life” was recorded. Or November 24, 1966, when the first take of “Strawberry Fields Forever” was taped. But none of that magic would have happened without multiple recording takes and days of overdubbing and mixing. So maybe our last lesson from the Beatles is to balance the essential drudgery with opportunities to be creative.

In the end, I see myself meeting Mr. Eck halfway. I wholeheartedly agree that our young emerging professionals are often underused, and could be a much more significant force in our practices. But I’m pushing back on his CAD-monkey remarks. Yes, emerging professionals may be spending time on work that is not creatively fulfilling, but that’s true of most practicing architectural professionals at least some of the time. It’s not a matter of forcing junior staff to perform drudgework; it’s simply everyone doing what needs to be done, and finding the least costly person qualified to perform a particular task (architecture is a business, after all). Any task worth doing is worth doing well, but we have to make sure that the tasks we assign our emerging professionals are really worth doing.

So what can we learn from the Beatles? First, that emerging professionals in their twenties can do amazing things if we let them. Second, that all professions, even highly creative ones, involve some tasks that are not exciting to perform. And third, that the highest quality work is the result of both tedious and creative activities being done exceptionally well.



[1] Several dates compete for being “the end of the Beatles.” In addition to when Paul publicly left the group, we have August 20, 1969, the last time the four recorded together (on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy”); September 20, 1969, when John said (privately) he was quitting the group; December 31, 1970, when McCartney filed suit to dissolve the Beatles’ contract; and December 29, 1974, when the dissolution was legally final.

[2] Ringo was born on July 7, 1940; John on October 9, 1940; Paul on June 18, 1942; and George on February 25, 1943.

[3] A period that also includes the albums Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver, as well as the singles “Paperback Writer/Rain,” “Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine,” and “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever.”

[4] To read the original article, go to

[5] A lot of angry words were shared in the comments about what to call unlicensed architectural professionals. “Unlicensed architect” is a contradiction, since in most jurisdictions architects are by definition licensed. “Intern” is a safe term, but an unlicensed 40-year-old might not want to be called an intern. “Emerging professional” is safe and respectful.

[6] In some cases, literally, as in Liverpool’s Cavern Club.

[7] All the quotes are from Lewisohn’s book.

[8] The ages of major directors occurred to me a few weeks ago when I watched what looked like a 16-year-old win the Oscar for best director.

[9] The ages are approximately when the movies were filmed, not when they were released.



Back to top

Educational Opportunities





FREE CSI Webinar : Concrete Alkalinity: We All Need Reliable Testing & Performance Specifications

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EST

Sponsord by: AC•TECH

CSI Learning Level: Basic

Credit: 1.0 AIA HSW/LU credit


  • Specifiers
  • Owners
  • Contractors
  • Property Managers
  • Contract Administrators
  • Engineers
  • Facility Managers
  • Developers
  • Cost Estimator
  • Product/Manufacturer Reps
  • Project Managers
  • Architects


Penny Czarra, CSI and Ashok Kakade, PE

Alkalinity in concrete slabs can be the Achilles Heel for adhesives and fluid-applied protective coatings specified in floor, deck, and roof assembly projects. Crafting tight, non-ambiguous Performance Specifications (non-proprietary) based on ASTM and ACI Standards will greatly improve project performance and product durability. This course will define the alkalinity levels of healthy concrete slabs, locate the pH tolerance values of adhesives and coatings in product technical data sheets and manufacturer warranties, evaluate whether current pH testing methodologies typically conducted during the pre-installation / slab assessment phase of the project provide reliable results, and recommend guidelines for Performance Specifications that will protect the owner’s interests.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define alkalinity levels of “Healthy Concrete Slabs” (expressed as pH values).
  2. Determine the upper pH limits for the adhesives and/or coatings specified in the design/construction project from technical data sheets and manufacturer warranties.
  3. Discuss the implications of exceeding the pH tolerances of adhesives and coatings on the owner’s goals of long-term durability and performance.
  4. Examine whether current pH testing methodologies referenced in project specifications and contract documents provide reliable (replicable) results that would over-rule the textbook definition of the pH values of “Healthy Concrete Slabs”.
  5. Critique widely-used Proprietary Specifications to determine whether ambiguity over pH tolerances and pH testing during the pre-construction phase leads to last-minute (post-bid) product selection and application protocols that jeopardize the Owner’s long-term interests.
  6. Recommend guidelines for crafting tighter sections on testing, evaluating, and preparing concrete slabs for receiving pH sensitive adhesives and coatings.

FREE CSI Webinar : Sustainable Building Enclosure Design

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EST

Sponsored By: DuPont Building Innovations

CSI Learning Level: Intermediate

Credit: 1.0 AIA HSW/LU credit


  • Specifiers
  • Owners
  • Contractors
  • Engineers
  • Facility Managers
  • Developers
  • Architects
  • Project Managers
  • Students


Speaker:  Ben Meyer, RA, LEED AP

Buildings use a significant percentage of energy and resources and are responsible for 40% of the world’s waste, hence sustainable buildings have become imperative. A sustainable building requires optimization of whole building performance through proper integration of its parts. This seminar will focus on building enclosure contribution to sustainable buildings. The building enclosure is typically designed for the life of the building, making it critical to address its sustainability at the design phase. Building enclosure sustainability attributes include energy efficiency, durability, IAQ, and sustainable materials. Air leakage can transport heat, moisture and contaminants across the building enclosure and can affect all sustainability attributes. However air leakage impact has only recently been understood and continuous air barriers for air leakage control have become mandatory code requirements for the first time in ASHRAE 90.1-2010. The seminar is organized in 4 sections. − Section 1 will briefly review the information to date on climate change and why sustainable buildings must be an essential part of mitigation measures. − Section 2 will review an overview of LEED v4 and changes to the rating system. − Section 3 will discuss the Importance of building enclosure design of air barriers on sustainability in the context of LEED v4. − Section 4 will summarize building envelope material sustainability and health in the context of LEED v4.

Learning Objectives:

  1. The impact of buildings on the environment and why sustainable buildings are an imperative of our times.
  2. The importance of building enclosure design on building’s sustainability.
  3. The impact of air leakage on the sustainability of the building enclosure.
  4. How air barriers may contribute to USGBC (US Green Building Council) LEED-2013 v4 pre-requisites and/or credits.


All Webinar Registrations must be received 24 hours prior to the Webinar. Telephone dial-in and web log-in instructions will be forwarded to you 24 hours before event. By registering for this webinar you are agreeing to provide your contact information to the speaker.

Have questions about CSI’s Webinar Program? CSI Webinars


CSI on-Demand Webinars are education sessions that provide convenient, quality learning at an affordable price – you will be able to see materials, hear an instructor and earn continuing education credit. Courses qualify for Professional Development Hours (PDHs) and AIA Continuing Education Hours (CEHs). 

The cost per webinar is $55 for CSI members, or $75 for non-members -- join CSI now and save when you register for an on-demand webinar! 

See the webinars available on demand!


In addition to CSI Webinars, CSI has additional educational opportunities for members of the construction industry.

For more information go to:

The Construction Specifications Institute is a Registered Provider of American Institute of Architects Continuing Education System and United States Green Building Council Education Provider Network


Back to top

Chapter Leadership



George Ramsay, CSI, CDT 

 Immediate Past President

Pam Jergenson, CSI, CCS, CCCA


Andy Garner, CSI, CDT 

 Vice President

Sarah Atkins, CSI, 

 Vice President

Dave Rasmussen, CSI

 Vice President

Jeremy Nordby,CSI, CCPR

 Vice President

Cynthia Long, CSI, CDT


James Bergevin, CSI


Drew Bjorklund, CSI, CDT, AIA



Awards Committee

Tohnya Adams, CSI, Co-Chair

Rick Nichols, CSI, Co-Chair

Certification Committee

Marthe A. Brock-Johnson, CSI, CCPR, Co-Chair

Erin Anderson, CSI, CDT, LEED GA, Co-Chair

 Communications Committee

Keith Pashina, PE, CSI, Chair


Sandy McWilliams, CSI, Co-chair

Kasey Howard, CSI, Chair

 Membership Committee

Gary C. Patrick, CSI, AIA, RRC, Co-Chair

Pete Weum, CSI, Co-Chair

Programs Committee

Terry M. Olsen, CSI, AIA, Leed AP, BD+C, Co-Chair

Kirsten Larson, CSI, Co-Chair

Student Membership

Hannah Fleischaker, CSI-EP, Chair

Chapter Administrator

 Vicky Olson - IntrinXec

Back to top