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Cincinnati Construction News

CSI National Election

Because of the CDT

The CSI Practice Guides

Yocum's Law

Specific Thoughts

Constructive Thoughts

MasterFormat: The Lighter Side

News and Views

Views expressed in these News and Views articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the CSI Cincinnati Chapter or the Construction Specifications Institute.


Cincinnnati Construction News

Former Baldwin piano factory transformed into urban loft apartments

June 13, 2017 - Cincinnati Business Courier
CINCINNATI -- It has been nearly three years since Neyer Properties purchased the Baldwin Complex along Interstate 71 in Walnut Hills. Now, the massive redevelopment of the Grand Baldwin building into 190 loft-style apartments is nearly complete...Read More>>

FC Cincinnati unveils stadium plans

June 12, 2017 - Cincinnati Business Courier

CINCINNATI -- FC Cincinnati revealed its plans for its permanent home on Monday night.The proposed design for the FC Cincinnati stadium includes a fan plaza, brewpub and a facade capable of broadcasting images across the entire facility...Read More>>

Kroger to build its first Downtown Cincinnati supermarket since 1969

June 6, 2017 - Cincinnati Enquirer
The company will build a grocery store at the corner of Court and Walnut streets as part of a $90.5 million, mixed-use tower, officials are announcing Tuesday. The site, next to the Hamilton County Administration building and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles between Court and Central Parkway, is currently a 175-space parking lot...Read More>>

Kroger delays store construction across Cincinnati region

June 2, 2017 - Cincinnati Enquirer

Lots of residents in Green and Colerain townships have been wondering the same thing: "When is work going to start on our new Kroger Marketplace?"  Good question. Officials in both townships would like an answer, too...Read More>>

CSI National Election

The 2017 national election has concluded and the following members are elected to serve on the CSI Board of Directors, with terms beginning July 1, 2017. If you'd like to read more about the newly elected members of the Board, please click on the links below to see their candidate profiles.

To see a complete list of the CSI Board of Directors for the FY18 fiscal year (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) go to

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Because of the CDT

01 March 2017

Marvin Kemp, AIA, CSI, CDT


Marvin Kemp, AIA, CSI, CDT

Last year, CSI’s senior manager for marketing and communications, Christine Tanner (@ChristineLTanne), asked her Twitter followers to complete the sentence, “Because of the CDT…” My response? “I’m a better architect and better able to serve my clients & industry partners.” I’d like to expand on those thoughts.

I was already a licensed architect when I earned my Construction Documents Technology (CDT) certificate in 2002. Why sit for an additional professional test after already passing a grueling nine-part Architect’s Registration Exam? I was a good architect, but I knew I could get better. I knew a lot about construction documents, but not all there was to know. Having spent nearly 10 years practicing in the public realm (mostly at public universities), I knew from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) contract documents there were other ways, and I wanted to see what I was missing.

Since then, I have found I am a better architect. I am not a mindless robot that puts on blinders and follows the ‘CSI Way’ of practicing design and producing documents or does things the same way because ‘that’s how we’ve always done it.’ With the CDT, I have the knowledge of how to do things the right way, so I better understand the risks and rewards of deviating from generally accepted standards. This helps me better serve my clients.

There are no cookie-cutter, boilerplate construction projects. In my office, we pride ourselves on producing great designs that creatively achieve our clients’ goals within their budgets. This creativity often comes with experimenting in new materials or alternative documentation techniques. To be most efficient, we occasionally try new documentation through our modeling, drawings, and specifications to allow us to push the envelope with our designs and give the builders the information they need. The CDT has helped me provide better documentation, mitigating risk for our firm and for our clients.

I had mentioned “industry partners” in my initial tweet. One of my great joys in CSI membership has been getting to know all members of the industry, from owners and builders to manufacturer’s reps and attorneys. We are all in this together—by working as partners, we can best serve our clients. The CDT taught me that, regardless of the contracts in place, all members of the team are responsible, whether contractually or not, to help each other reach the client’s goals and budget.

While preparing to take the CDT exam, I was reminded of projects I had worked on, both good and bad. I began to reflect on what made the good ones good and the bad ones bad. A common thread wound through both— the quality of the team members. Good teams have good projects, and bad teams have less successful ones.

I firmly believe if the percentage of CDTs increased, so too would the number of good projects. There would be fewer adversarial teams and greater collaboration. More owners would have better buildings and spend fewer dollars to build those buildings. If we all hold the CDT, we all do our jobs better and make more money.

This year’s registration deadline is March 14, with exam dates of March 27 through June 2. For more, visit, and consider signing up to take the exam and earn this important certificate. You’ll be better at work, and you’ll further your career.

Marvin Kemp, AIA, CSI, CDT, is a principal with the multi-disciplinary design firm, Design Collective Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a long-time member and past-president of the Baltimore Chapter of CSI and is currently institute director from the Middle Atlantic Region. As an architect and project manager, Kemp has focused his career in higher education design and laboratory planning. He frequently blogs on construction collaboration and design leadership online at He can be reached via e-mail at

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The CSI Practice Guides

04 March 2017

Practice Guides serve as a major part of the curated knowledge CSI has to offer professionals. Currently developed as a series of larger publications/text books, the Practice Guides also serve as the core knowledge for the certification program. 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 construction process.  


Project Delivery Practice Guide

Laying the foundation for this series, The CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide provides fundamental knowledge for the documentation, administration, and successful delivery of construction projects. It also serves as the pivotal starting point for understanding CSI's core values, as well as a useful study aid for those wishing to obtain the CDT certificate.

Member Price: $75. Non-Member Price: $85. Learn more, or order.  


Construction Specifications Practice Guide

The CSI Construction Specifications Practice Guide is focused on the roles and responsibilities of the specifications professional in meeting the challenges of the changing world of construction. The Guide also presents construction professions and product researchers studying for the CCS Exam with a solid foundation for identifying cost-effective solutions and communicating those solutions through specifications

Member Price: $72.00 Non-Member Price: $85. Learn more, or order.   


Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide

The CSI Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide presents a thorough overview of standard contract documents and their use in successfully administering construction projects. The Guide also presents construction professionals and students studying for the CCCA Exam with a solid foundation for improving their methods of developing, administering, and enforcing construction documentation.

Member Price: $72. Non-Member Price: $85. Learn more, or order.



The CSI Sustainable Design and Construction Practice Guide compiles information and best practices for those who participate in some aspect of the design and construction of sustainable facilities. The Guide provides best practices for project delivery methods as related to current-day sustainable design. Member Price: $72.00 Non-Member Price: $90.00 Learn more, or order.



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Thomas R. Yocum, Esq., CSI

Managing Member

Benjamin, Yocum & Heather, LLC

Attorneys at Law

The Uniform Commercial Code

13 JUN 2017

Every business man should have a general awareness of the “Uniform Commercial Code” which with minor variations is the law governing commercial transactions throughout the United States.  The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) was drafted by the American Law Institute and National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.


Uniform Laws are conducive to fostering commercial transactions and commercial growth through consistency and knowledge of the “rules of the game.”  By having uniform laws, rights can better be protected by not exposing parties to unpredictable quirks of the laws in a particular state which may be different from the laws of every other state in the country.


The UCC is divided into “Articles”.  Three articles which frequently have application to the construction industry are:  (a) Article 2 on “Sales” of goods; (b) Article 3 on “Commercial Paper”; and (c) Article 9 on “Secured Transactions”.


Article 2 of the UCC regarding Sales sets forth very specific rules that apply in commercial transactions for the sale of goods.  While no set of laws can eliminate all potential disputes, Article 2 sets forth very specific rules which in many instances are determinative of disputes in a definite manner.  Article 2 deals with such issues as warranties, remedies in the event of breach, revocation of acceptance, how terms of the agreement are determined, etc.


Similarly, Article 3 regarding “Commercial Paper” sets forth specific rules regarding “negotiable instruments”, i.e., checks or drafts.  Article 3 addresses such issues as endorsements on joint (two-party) checks, payment in full checks, etc.


Finally, Article 9 deals with “secured transactions”.  A “security interest” is taken in collateral to guarantee repayment of a loan.  The security interest may be in tangibles such as motor vehicles or inventory.  Or the security interest may be in intangibles such as accounts receivable.


Ohio adopted the Uniform Commercial Code in 1962.  The various states which have adopted the UCC have made minor modifications in many instances.  However, for the most part, the UCC has been a very positive development toward the adoption of uniform laws in the United States of America.


Unfortunately, uniform laws regarding mechanics and materialman’s lien laws have not been widely adopted.  Although there have been efforts to adopt uniform lien laws, they still vary widely from State to State, including those in the local Tri-State area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.  Although the UCC has been very positive in creating a uniform body of law, it will not be dispositive of all legal disputes and issues that arise in the construction industry.


Thomas R. Yocum, Esq., CSI

Benjamin, Yocum & Heather, LLC

300 Pike Street, Suite 500

Cincinnati, OH 45202-4222

(513) 721-5672

Web site:



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By Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA

Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter

BWBR Architects

St. Paul, Minnesota


Building envelope - or building enclosure?

03 January 2017


In October, I published "Tegularity," a discussion of the proper term for acoustic ceiling panels. (The title came from the name for a specific type of panel edge.) Shortly thereafter, in December 2016, I received a question from Anthony Capkun, editor for  Electrical Business Magazine and former editor forthe Construction Specifier. He asked, "What is the correct term these days: a) Building Envelope or b) Building Enclosure?" 

I responded that I had always used building envelope, and that that is the term I hear most often. But, having learned a long time ago that always hearing a term used in a particular manner does not mean that that is the correct term, I decided to investigate further. 

One of the first places I go for this type of question is Google's Ngram Viewer. This is a handy search tool that charts frequency of appearance of words or terms, based on sources printed between 1500 and 2008. Although it has its problems, it's a convenient way to get a feel for the relative uses of similar terms. In this case, the results suggest that my experience is probably common, with building envelope being used far more frequently than building enclosure. 

However, in our line of work, we don't rely on popularity contests, so I turned to the experts - published standards and leaders in the subject. 

I started with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), self-proclaimed "Authoritative Source of Innovative Solutions for the Built Environment." NIBS has several committees, one of which is the Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council (BETEC). In 2004, BETEC and AIA established the Building Enclosure Council - National (BEC-N), which now has 26 chapters (BECs) in various states. BETEC has other committees, some of which use "enclosure" in their titles; none use "envelope." 

Next on my list was recognized guru Joe Lstiburek, PhD, PE, ASHRAE Fellow, principal at Building Science Corporation. Joe is blunt about his view. In BSI-024: Vocabulary, he said "They are building enclosures—they are not building envelopes. You put letters in an envelope not people." The same document defines only building enclosure. It has been reported that he also said, "Envelopes are for FedEx. Enclosures are for engineers." It's interesting to note that he wasn't always this certain; in 1999 he wrote a paper titled "Air Pressure and Building Envelopes." 

A search of the Whole Building Design Guide shows some documents that use building envelope, while others use building enclosure. ASTM and ASHRAE use both terms, and Wiki defines building envelope only, yet has a discussion of building enclosure commissioning. 

Our friends to the north have the National Building Envelope Council of Canada. As you might expect, building envelope is widely used in Canada, but building enclosure also appears. Because they've been more concerned about weather barriers than the US has, for a longer time, my initial inclination was to follow their lead. Unfortunately, Joe Lstiburek and his buddies muddied the water, deciding that building enclosure was better than building envelope. 

I was not surprised to find that I was not the first to try to find the better of the two terms. In October 2012, Allison Bailes III, PhD, owner of energy vanguard, posted "Building Envelope or Building Enclosure Which Is the Better Term?" in the energy vanguard blog. After discussing the debate and stating a preference for building envelope, he ends by saying, "Both are perfectly adequate, but the existence of two terms for the same thing will create unnecessary confusion. Such is life." About a month later, he posted a follow-up titled "'Building Enclosure,' Not 'Building Envelope.'" In this piece, he discusses additional information and states, "Precision of language matters. The building enclosure is one of the most fundamental concepts in building science, and it does make sense to use a single term to describe it. I'm now a convert to 'building enclosure' and will use it exclusively."

I sent inquiries to a few of the standards organizations, asking if there will be an attempt to agree on a single term. Even if they do, it will take at least a couple of years to change their standards, as they would undoubtedly wait until the standards were due for updates. 

As for me, I'm going to follow the lead of NIBS and Lstiburek, and use building enclosure.

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

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments at


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By Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA

Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter

BWBR Architects

St. Paul, Minnesota


Small Brush with Fame

01 May 2017


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-19 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


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MasterFormat:  The Lighter Side


Gary Beimers, FCSI, CDT

Grand Rapids Chapter

A humorous look at MasterFormat


Spec That!    

Say What 101400 Signage Passing Place


Say What 101400 Signage Turn Left

10 14 00– Signage


10 14 00– Signage

Remember When 116813 Playground Equipment   Spec That 087100 Door Hardware
11 68 13 - Playgrgound Equipment
08 71 00 - Door Hardware
Remember When    


Remember When 332000 Wells

11 11 00 – Vehicle Service Equipment
33 20 00 - Wells

Gary Beimers, FCSI, CDT is president of GLB Consultants of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an "at large" member of CSC. He has been part of the MasterFormat expansion and implementation team.

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