The must-have reference on construction product representation--and
the essential study aid for the Certified Construction Product
Representation (CCPR) Exam
The CSI Practice Guides are a library of comprehensive references specifically and carefully designed for the construction professional. Each book examines important concepts and best practices integral to a particular aspect of the building process.The CSI Construction Product Representation Practice Guide is an authoritative resource for the principles and best practices of effective construction product representation.
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The must-have reference on construction product representation--and
the essential study aid for the Certified Construction Product
Representation (CCPR) Exam
It seems as if competitors will publish product performance data derived from different test standards to deliberately make it difficult to compare products.
For the benefit of the search engines, here is the text: "The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from."
I first heard this poem when I was in 7th Grade, and think of it whenever a building product sales rep brags that he or she has 'the best product." It is a cautionary tale about using logic in product selection. Enjoy.
The Deacon’s Masterpiece or The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay": A Logical Story
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then of a sudden it — ah, but stay,
I’ll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits, –
Have you ever heard of that, I say?
Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
Georgius Secundus was then alive, –
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock’s army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on that terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.
Now in building of shaises, I tell you what,
There is always a weakest spot, –
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In pannel or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, throughbrace, — lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will, –
Above or below, or within or without, –
And that’s the reason, beyond a doubt,
That a chaise breaks down, but doesn’t wear out.
But the Deacon swore (as deacons do,
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell yeou")
He would build one shay to beat the taown
‘n’ the keounty ‘n’ all the kentry raoun’;
It should be so built that it couldn’ break daown:
"Fer," said the Deacon, "’t's mighty plain
Thut the weakes’ place mus’ stan’ the strain;
‘n’ the way t’ fix it, uz I maintain, is only jest
‘T’ make that place uz strong uz the rest."
So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn’t be split nor bent nor broke, –
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the the straightest trees
The pannels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler’s ellum," –
Last of its timber, — they couldn’t sell ‘em,
Never no axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Throughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through,"
"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she’ll dew!"
Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren — where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!
EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; — it came and found
The Deacon’s masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hindred increased by ten; –
"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came; –
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arive,
And then come fifty and FIFTY-FIVE.
Little of of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there’s nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it. — You’re welcome. — No extra charge.)
FIRST OF NOVEMBER, — the Earthquake-day, –
There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn’t be, — for the Deacon’s art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn’t a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less or more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And the spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!
First of November, fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson. — Off went they.
The parson was working his Sunday’s text, –
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the — Moses — was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet’n'-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill, –
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet’n'-house clock, –
Just the hour of the earthquake shock!
What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, –
All at once, and nothing first, –
Just as bubbles do when they burst.
End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That’s all I say.
Illustration, "The Masterpiece"1858, 1892. Howard Pyle (1853-1911)
Sheldon Wolfe, author of Constructive Thoughts, has given this blog the Liebster Award, a method of recognizing good blogs that do not get much traffic.
Like many social media campaigns, this one is based on the power of something going viral. Each receipient is supposed to give awards to five more blogs. Here is a comment I left on Sheldon's site:
I appreciate the honor given to www.BuildingProductMarketing.com.----
I am concerned, however, that the concept behind the Liebster Blog is Award impractical. Consider the math:
If each award recipient honors the commitment to nominate 5 other blogs, and does so within 10 days of receiving the award, there would be, within the first year, 5 raised to the 36.5 power = 3.2539072e+25 awards given. This is a a quantity that exceeds by orders of magnitude a reasonable estimate of blogs around the world, 1.81e7, tracked by Nielsen/McKinsey. (http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/buzz-in-the-blogosphere-millions-more-bloggers-and-blog-readers/).
In addition to being clear, complete, and concise, I also aim for constructability. A decision to participate in a "chain letter" of any type can only be founded on the assumption that the instructions will not be followed by all the recipients.
And if I wanted my instructions to be ignored, I would write construction specifications. ;-(
Still, I will list some of the blogs I follow:
HearingShofar.blogspot.com -- I write it.
compositesandarchitecture.com -- the brave new world of digital fabrication and composite materials
Many science blogs: I don't remember their names because they automatically load to my home page.
While not blogs, I subscribe to many e-newsletters on topics of interest.
Beyond that, I love the surprise of wandering through the internet, with one idea leading to another.
Yet there are also mechanisms that can justify large scale investments to launch major new building products fully formed. A major builder, for example, can through its support behind a new product by offering the prospect of big sales right out of the gate.
I thought of this while reading Building Tall: My Life and the Invention of Construction Management, the autobiography of John L. Tishman, published 2011 by The University of Michigan Press.
The author rose through the ranks of the Tishman family's real estate development business to head its construction division. Since the family built for its own portfolio, it had an incentive to make design and construction decisions based upon total cost of ownership instead of construction first costs, and to experiment with construction innovations that would be too risky for a bottom-line driven general contractor. When the construction division started offering its unique perspective as a professional service to other companies, it became an independent business - Tishman Construction - a pioneer in the field of construction management.
The author reminisces that,
"I have become convinced that successful design and construction innovations could have been effectively conceived and tried out only by an 'owner/builder.' A general contractor cannot afford to make or even to suggest radical innovations because his job is simpy to execute from existing plans and not to deviate from them; neither can an owner/developer whose company does not closely and personally oversee the actual job site construction. Only those deeply involved in the design and construction aspects of the project, and who have the benefit - and the needs - of being the owner/builder, or acting on behalf of an owner/builder, can do so. The Tishman Company as owner/buider could accept the risk of experimenting with new processes and materials -- because we were in a position to to bear the costs if something went wrong and to reap the benefits if the new methods or materials worked well." (Page 37).To expedite innovations, the firm created the Tishman Research Corporation, which partnered with various industrial manufacturers and trade subcontractors to do research on materials and systems. "...we were able to induce materials manufacturers to become more innovative by holding out the certainty that if the new product was good enough, Tishman Realty would buy and use it in a real-life, million-square-foot office building. Knowing that the product could be sold in quantity was enough of an enticement for a materials company to make the costly decision to refit a production line so that it could turn out new configurations of flooring or ceiling modules or of exterior panels. Without such a promise of sales in the offing, a manufacturer would be reluctant to invest in revamping its tools and procedures to manufacture a new or radically different product." (page 38)
Among the building product innovations the author discusses are:
- One of the first buildings with only self-service elevators: Not only was this bold from a property owner's perspective, but "we immediately realized that the elevator cabs, since there wold be no operator present, would be vulnerable to vandalism and graffiti. I helped to come up with an answer to that problem." (Page 33) The solution was to make the control panels accessible from the interior of the cab where they could be easily maintained instead of installing them on the outside of the cab. (Page 41)
- Panelized facades: "I had been working with Alcoa, and we had come up with a way to use their aluminum for the facade instead of bricks or stone and mortar. To put on bricks and mortar was a process that often took weeks, Alcoa's aluminum facade for...a building of twenty-seven stories, with the aluminum wrapping around three sides, was going to be installed in just five days." (Page 33 and 42) The firm staged the speedy installation as a PR event. Later, Tishman worked with Alcoa to develop aluminum alloys for improved, more corrosion resistant anodized aluminum.
- Increasing the size of ceiling tiles to the now standard 2 x 4 foot module in order to get more efficiency from fluorescent lamps. (Page 39)
- Concrete structures left exposed as the finished surface. (Page 47)
- Encapsulating venetian blinds between two panes of glass to reduce maintenance costs. (Page 47)
- With LOF, a new way to temper glass to reduce the breakage being experienced by glass spandrel panels. (Page 50)
- With U.S. Gypsum, the now standard gypsum board shaft wall system that eliminated weight and saved time in the construction of elevator shafts. (Page 55)
- Demountable partition systems. (Page 56).
- A rationalization of hotel bathroom construction by using pre-fabricated components such as wall-to-wall vanities and a one-handle faucet instead of separate hot and cold knobs. (Page 57)
- Motion-detector light switches to conserve energy. (Page 58)
Building Tall is a personal memoir and the author and co-author can be forgiven if they focus only on the Tishman's successes. It would be interesting to read a more in-depth probe into the dynamics between big builders and building product manufacturers. The World Trade Center illustrates, for example, both the positive and negative potential for a manufacturer working with a big builder.
Early in my career, I worked for Inryco, a metal panel manufacturer. Collaborating with Tishman -- the construction manager for the original WTC -- Inryco developed the long-span floor deck system that was used in the Twin Towers. The potential of an enormous order enabled Inryco to invest in the R&D, testing, and tooling for what became an important part of its product line.
More recently, I worked with Excend, a company funded by Hochtieff to commercialize an innovative type of micro-reinforced concrete. Excend believed their technology was a sure thing for use in the replacement WTC; it could produce stronger, lighter, and more blast resistant concrete than normally reinforced concrete. Moreover, Excend's parent company also owned Turner Construction, part of a joint venture with Tishman providing construction management services on the project. After initial interest by the construction managers, however, Excend's technology was not accepted. Hochtief abandoned the venture despite (or because of) the significant investments it had already made.
The take away is that doing business with a big builder may be alluring, it is still business and not patronage.
From the book publisher:
In this memoir, University of Michigan graduate John L. Tishman recounts the experiences and rationale that led him to create the entirely new profession now recognized and practiced as Construction Management. It evolved from his work as the construction leader of the "owner/builder" firm Tishman Realty & Construction, and his personal role as hands-on Construction Manager in the building of an astonishing array of some of the world's tallest and most complex projects. These include
- The world's first three 100-story towers—the original "twin towers" of the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Hancock Tower in Chicago.
- The EPCOT Center at Disney World.
- The Renaissance Center in Detroit.
- New York's Madison Square Garden.
This book will be of interest not only to a general public intrigued by the stories and personalities behind many of the most iconic construction projects of the post–World War II period in the United States but to students of engineering and architecture and members of the new field of Construction Management.