Justin Henshell hits the 61 year mark!

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Justin Henshell hits the 61 year mark!
Interview by Luis Losada

Justin Henshell, CSI, FAIA, is a partner in Henshell & Buccellato, Consulting Architects, specializing in moisture-related issues in the building envelope since 1974.  It has provided consulting services for over a 1000 buildings on roofing, masonry walls, waterproofing and condensation.
Mr. Henshell, a 1949 graduate of the University of Michigan, has been a registered Architect for 62 years, is licensed in 6 States and holds a certificate from the NCARB.  He has headed his own firm since 1956.  In addition to membership in the CSI for the past 61 years, (president 1964-65)  he is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Fellow of ASTM . He is the recipient of ASTM's Walter C. Voss Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Building Technology, the William Cullen Award and RCI's William Correll Award. He has authored more than 57 technical articles and papers and presented them in the United States, Canada and Europe on roofing, waterproofing, flashing and masonry.  
Henshell is the principle author of two ASTM standards on waterproofing design and a co-author of an NCARB monograph on Built-up Roofing.  He is also the author of The Manual of Below-Grade Waterproofing Systems published by John Wiley & Sons in 2000.

What has it meant to you to be a member of CSI?

I joined CSI as the first member after the MNY chapter was founded in the early 1950's.  Meetings were held in the Architectural League basement on East 40th Street adjacent to 101 Park Ave., the Architects' Building   It was through my association with specification writers and architectural materials representatives that I learned the science of building construction. Information that was not available in catalogues was freely given at the bar in the League and during the technical portion of the meetings  I chaired the technical programs from 1953 through 1963.  Joining CSI provided me with a great technical education and taught me that it is not what you know, but who you know.  

How has being a member of CSI helped you throughout your career?

Many of the giants of the construction industry were MNY Chapter members.  Frank Fryberg of SOM and Phil Maslow educated me about the developing technology of sealants.  Harold Sleeper improved my knowledge of detailing, Ben John Small instructed me on "Streamlined Specification" writing, and Andrew Tevan president of Zero Weatherstripping introduced me to that field. It was at CSI,  that I met Ed Weed, who was the Treasurer of National CSI and a former chapter president. We eventually became partners and, together with Harold Rosen, the specification guru,formed our consulting firm in the 1960s.  

What is your fondest memory of being a CSI member?

Two anecdotes stand out in my mind:
Frank Fryberg, the chapter president who preceded me, was a chemical engineer and the chief spec writer for SOM. When Lever House experienced serious leaking, he went to California to investigate a product that the Thiokol Corporation was using to line US Navy aircraft gas tanks which would self-seal when punctured by bullets.  He thought that with some modifications, this polysulfide would work for remediating the curtain wall leaks  in Lever House..  He persuaded George Grenadier Corp  to try it and after much trial and error, found that it would work. Volia! The advent of sealants as we know them.  
I also recall Ben John Small relating his experiences with sealant manufacturer representatives who wanted him to specify their products for sealing the Thule Air Force Base in Northern Canada. (This was in the days when polysulfides were the only sealant on the market, before urethanes and silicones).  Ben had a small freezer installed in his office and when the representative came in he took a sample of their sealant and placed it in the freezer.  When the salesman returned a few days later, Ben would remove the sample from the freezer and drop it on the floor, where it invariably shattered.  

Your membership has crossed over 6 decades: What growth or changes in the organization have you experienced that have stayed with you over that time?

I still write my own specifications for roofing and waterproofing. I was a member of the MNYChapter committee who in the 1960s was charged with developing the newly created Division 7.  By introducing the concept of 14 Divisions, CSI  increased its stature and influence in the construction industry.  I saw the Section number grow from single digits to 6 digits and their list from a single page to a 175 page book. Sweets Catalogue, governmental agencies, contractors and the entire specification writing community eventually adopted the CSI Division system.  Though this single act, CSI had become one of the leaders in the field of specification writing and building technology.  

What words of wisdom do you have for the members of CSI?

I’m not sure that I don’t belie the saying that wisdom comes with age.  But I would hope that chapter members take advantage of the opportunity to interface with their peers at meetings.  It is through these relationships that they can develop and widen their knowledge of the science of construction.  One that is not readily available in any other way.