American Institute of Steel Construction

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Industry Construction
Founded 1921, New York City
Founder National Steel
Fabricators Association
Headquarters 1 East Wacker Drive
Suite 700
Chicago, Illinois
Area served
United States
Key people
Roger Ferch - President
Services Technical Institute
Trade Association
Divisions NSBA
Slogan There's always a solution in steel.
Website Official Site

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry in the United States. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural-steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry providing timely and reliable information.


Empire State Building

In the early 1900s there were a number of independently operated structural steel fabricator groups that were concerned with improving the disorganized climate in which they operated. They individually sought some means to establish a code of practice and ethics for the industry, and to promote the usage of steel for building and bridge construction. However, there was no defining event or organization that could establish a unified message.

When the United States entered the World War I, the two larger steel fabricator groups, the Structural Steel Society and the Bridge Builders Society, discussed the formation of a national group to represent the steel industry during the war emergency. The two groups agreed that this was the right step and called a meeting for all U.S. steel fabricators. On November 21, 1917 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the structural steel War Service Committee was formed. This group assisted the U.S. War Industries Board in the procurement of fabricated structural steel, and attempted to coordinate the efforts of the steel industry during the World War I effort.

The U.S. War Industries Board (WIB) was decommissioned at the conclusion of World War I on January 1, 1919. With the decommissioning of the WIB, the leaders of the Structural Steel Society and the Bridge Builders Society met in November 1919 to disband the War Service Committee. Proactive fabricators attending the meeting suggested that the War Service Committee be reorganized into a new association that would continue the promotional efforts of the structural steel industry on a national basis. All parties agreed and the War Service Committee was reorganized to become The National Steel Fabricators Association (NSFA). The NSFA immediately established an office at 50 Church Street New York, New York, and Pittsburgh was established as the home of the NSFA Annual Meeting.

Representatives from 34 of the then 85 founding members were present at the 1920 NSFA Annual Meeting. While larger fabricators were still hesitant in joining the NSFA at this time, the participation at this Annual Meeting illustrated the determination of the steel fabrication industry in making the association a success.

During the 1921 Annual Meeting, the funding/membership structure of NSFA was confirmed and a Board of Directors was established. NSFA also adopted a tentative charter, constitution, and by-laws; these documents would become the defining purposes and goals of NSFA.

At the 1922 Annual Meeting, the National Steel Fabricators Association officially changed its name to the American Institute of Steel Construction. Initially there was discussion as to whether the proposed name the “American Institute of Steel Construction” was too similar to the existing American Iron and Steel Institute. The group considered an alternative name of the National Institute of Steel Construction; however, as Canadian fabricators were actively part of the NSFA, it was decided that “American” was a more appropriate term for the name.

The objectives of AISC were presented as follows:

  • Establish AISC as a single steel code authority that would be recognized by building code authorities and designers.
  • In an attempt to eliminate the confusion of numerous and different manuals produced by U.S. steel mills, AISC would establish a set of loading tables for all U.S. steel sections. AISC would then ask U.S. mills to adopt this standard in their future publications; thus showing the public that the mills have accepted AISC standards as authority.
  • AISC would establish a uniform code for use for the entire industry, including mills and fabricators, to establish a uniform reference that would contribute to the advancement of the entire industry.
  • AISC would become a champion in establishing and enhancing college steel construction courses.
  • AISC would also serve as an authority that would market the economical and efficient use of steel to architects, engineering professionals, and building commissioners.

Although the name the American Institute of Steel Constriction was not established until 1922, you will note that the AISC seal states “founded in 1921”. Again during the Annual Meeting 1921, the then young organization NSFA defined its purposes and goals. Those purposes and goals would continue after the name change to AISC.

Virtually from the beginning, AISC embarked on determined and aggressive programs of promotion, publicity, public relations, salesmanship, engineering and research. All of these programs continue today.

‘’Of the two founding structural steel fabricators associations, The Bridge Builders Society disbanded in 1921, and the Structural Steel Society merged with the Central Fabricators Association in 1926. The Central Fabricators Association continues to promote structural steel usage in the Midwest. ‘’

Technical Publications[edit]

AISC Steel Construction Manuals

The continued financial support and active participation of AISC Members in engineering, research, and development activities make possible the publishing of technical publications. The following is a summary of AISC's more prominent publications:

Specification for Structural Steel Buildings (ANSI/AISC 360)[edit]

The AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings provides the generally applicable requirements for the design and construction of structural steel buildings and other structures.

The first AISC '’Standard Specification for the Design, Fabrication, and Erection of Structural Steel for Buildings’’ was published on June 1, 1923. The ’’Specification’’ met with immediate universal favor and began to be adopted by building officials and code bodies throughout the country. By 1924, the ’’Specification’’ had been adopted by 25 prominent cities in the United States and today it's incorporated into the International Building Code, which is the primary source for building codes throughout the United States.

The current specification, dated June 10, 2010, is available for free to the general public at Both the Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) and Allowable Strength Design (ASD) methodologies of design are incorporated into 2010 ‘’Specification’’. The next AISC ‘’Specification” is scheduled to be adopted in 2016.

AISC Code of Standard Practice for Structural Steel Buildings and Bridges (AISC 303)[edit]

The AISC Code of Standard Practice for Structural Steel Buildings and Bridges (COSP) provides a framework for a common understanding of the acceptable standards when contracting for structural steel. As such, it is useful for everyone associated with construction in structural steel.

In 1924 the AISC Board of Directors approved a Code of Standard Practice for the fabricated structural steel industry. This document listed and classified the fabricated steel items that go into the structure, and stipulated standard rules and procedures for: calculation of weights for invoicing, preparation and approval of shop drawings, resolution of discrepancies between drawings and specifications, determination of good workmanship, inspection and delivery, erection, delays, extras, proposals and contracts.

The publication of this standard caught the attention of Herbert Hoover, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In October 1924, Mr. Hoover addressed a letter to AISC which stated: "It gives me pleasure to congratulate you and the members of the American Institute of Steel Construction on your splendid progress in simplification and standardization of your products and practices. Voluntary cooperation of industry, the engineering profession, and the consuming public in these matters not only helps eliminate waste, but strengthens employment, and opens the door to greater prosperity for all concerned. "

The current AISC Code of Standard Practice is dated April 14, 2010 and is available for free to the general public.

AISC Steel Construction Manual[edit]

Best known and most widely used of AISC technical publications is the Steel Construction Manual, which holds a highly respected position in engineering literature.

On June 1, 1923, AISC published Steel Construction, a booklet that provided an explanation of the formulas in the first Specification and contained design aid charts for finding allowable stresses in columns, beam webs and laterally unsupported flanges.

In 1926, with the cooperation of U.S. steel mills, AISC published its first handbook, entitled ‘’Steel Construction Allowable Load Tables’’. This 104 page booklet included tabulated data on the dimensions, properties, and allowable loads of all beam and column shapes rolled in the U.S., as well as data on connection angles, column base plates, built-up members, rivet & bolt values and other miscellaneous items, all based on the 1923 ‘’Standard Specification’’.

This was the first time in U.S. history when a designer could refer to a single publication that contained data previously available only in a multiplicity of mill catalogs. The 1926 handbook was an immediate success and became the forerunner of the AISC Steel Construction Manual.

With the publication of each new AISC Specification & Code of Standard Practice, an accompanying Steel Construction Manual is published. In March 2011, AISC published the current 14th Edition Steel Construction Manual. The 14th Edition Manual is based on the 2010 Specification for Structural Steel Buildings and the 2010 Code of Standard Practice for Steel Building and Bridges. This publication is found on the desk of almost every practicing structural engineer as well as most structural engineering students. More information is available at

AISC Design Guides[edit]

Recognizing the wide range of projects that design professionals are called upon to handle, AISC has produced design guides to help the practicing engineer. The design guides are intended to be informational, not normative, and as such compile and organize the thoughts and suggestions of their authors on particular technical and market focused topics. All design guides bring the collective experience and knowledge of the author and reviewers, including fabricators, engineers, professors, researchers, and practitioners in the engineering and construction industries. Currently, there are 26 Design Guides on topics including: Blast Resistant Structures; Hollow Structural Sections; Constructability of Steel Buildings; Fire Resistance of Structural Steel Framing; and Steel-Framed Open Deck Park Structures. More information is available at


Modern Steel Construction Magazine[edit]

Modern Steel Construction (MSC) is the monthly publication of the steel design and construction industry. MSC brings its readership in-depth information on the newest and most advanced uses of structural steel in buildings and bridges by focusing on innovative and cost-effective steel designs and the products that help bring them to life.

MSC is directed exclusively to professionals in the construction industry who make and influence purchasing decisions—whether they are engineers, architects, building owners, contractors, fabricators, detailers or erectors.

MSC is the only magazine in the United States devoted exclusively to the design and construction of steel-framed structures. You can read both the current issue and every back issue at

AISC Engineering Journal[edit]

Engineering Journal (ISSN 0013-8029) is AISC's quarterly technical journal. It is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to the improvement and advancement of structural steel construction. Engineering Journal has been the premier U.S. technical journal for structural steel construction since its beginnings in 1964.

External links[edit]


  • Gillette, Leslie H. (1980). The First 60 Years, The American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc. 1921-1980. Chicago, IL: American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc.