Written Architecture

How Specification Standards Dissolved the Role of the Master Builder / Presented at the 6th International Congress on Construction History

Over the course of eighty years, the Guastavino Company positioned itself as a master builder of timbrel vaults in the United States. The company gained notoriety among architects and engineers as being the most qualified for constructing thin masonry tile vaults for various types of projects. The specifications written for these projects offer insight into the transfer of knowledge and the direction of work between the Guastavino Company and the architects, engineers, and general contractors responsible for completing them. In the early twentieth century, however, these relationships shifted as new standards emerged from the establishment of institutions like the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) in 1948 and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA aka AGC) in 1918. This animation is based on a paper that correlates the history of the Guastavino Company with the formation of standards that impacted the transfer of knowledge and the direction of work in the United States.