The focus of this blog is construction-related topics. The purpose is discussion, so please feel free to comment! See Specific thoughts for thoughts from the daily life of a specifier.

29 December 2009

Sensible Stimulus

infrastructure: the roads, bridges, rail lines, power grid, and similar public works that are required for an industrial economy to function

I know enough about government to never expect too much, but when the federal stimulus package was proposed, I envisioned a large investment in highways, bridges, dams, and other civil works projects. I won’t pretend to understand the economics or details of the public works programs of the 1930s, but there are countless examples of well-designed, useful, long-lasting projects of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). My own state, Minnesota, has numerous state park buildings, highways, dams, bridges, and utilities that were built seventy years ago and remain in service today.

The subject of my article, “Return on Investment”, was the ancient buildings I saw while on vacation in Europe, and how they continue to be useful today. This month, we’ll look at more recent construction, particularly the infrastructure that supports our lifestyle.

Return on Investment

maintain: to keep in an existing state of repair; to preserve from failure or decline

Although logic tells us our world is built on the past - the inspiration, artistry, genius, and brute labor of our predecessors - it’s easy to forget what has gone before and accept everything we see as normal. If we occasionally took the time reflect on the wonders around us, or the long chain of events that led to their creation, we might better appreciate what we have, and plan better for the future.

06 December 2009

A Rose is a Rose

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
     William Shakespeare

On your next Institute ballot you will be asked to vote on elimination of the Professional, Industry, and Associate Member categories. Other than a vague suggestion that the result “better reflects CSI’s core value of building teamwork” - a questionable proposition in itself - I’m not sure what the justification will be, but I don’t believe the benefits outweigh the cost.

To put this issue in perspective, let’s take a look at the history of CSI member categories. (To make things easier, I will refer to these three member categories as “full members” to distinguish them from Intermediate Members and Student Members, who are not allowed to vote or hold elective office. And to avoid having to continually express this exception, I acknowledge that member categories are used when discussing the makeup of CSI boards of directors and committees.)