The 2017 Construction History Society of America Members Meeting will go to the frontier! Hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle, this meeting will explore the innovative construction history of the west coast. With the region shaped first by pioneering families and resource extraction economies and later transportation networks and local urban growth, presentations of this conference reflect this growth.
The keynote speakers will anchor the conference, with presentations on central historical themes. Jeffrey Ochsner, professor in the Department of Architecture at the UW, will discuss the architectural history of the region, through the lens of construction history. In the Northwest, changing styles often accompanied a change in building material, charting the progression of architecture from the 19th century to today. Knute Berger, journalist and historian, will seek on the history of the Seattle Space Needle - the iconic, sky-line defining monument of the city. Berger will discuss how the Space Needle enabled Seattle to be perceived as being on the cutting edge of technology, a high-tech branding that continues today. Jon Magnusson, former CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, comes from a long family history of construction in the Northwest. Magnusson went from walking around construction sites as a boy to leading a world-renown structural engineering firm responsible for iconic works in the Northwest and around the world. Projects include the Seattle Public Library, Safeco Field, Century Link Field and others. Mike Lombardi, historian at Boeing, will present the history of the most important company in the history of the northwest. Boeing’s innovation has driven the Northwest economy for decades, providing a highly-trained work force, and continuing to innovate with new materials and processes in creating airplanes.
Our plenary session presentations will address a broader scope of construction history in the west. Presentations will discuss the massive infrastructure that made life in the west possible, like hydroelectric dams (like the Grand Coulee Dam), bridges over waterways of the Puget Sound (like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge), and military encampments (like Fort Casey), - important markers of development. The region is also famous for its use of timber - first as logging old growth woods, then innovating engineered wood products. Presentations will show this history while indicating how this process continues today. Other presentations will dive into the personalities of builders on the frontier, older methods of construction that have been forgotten, and periods of innovation in specific materials (like precast concrete).
This conference will provide a fascinating look at construction history. See you in Seattle!