Obituary: John Henry Schruben, FAIA (1926 - 2022)

A photo of the John Schruben from 1972

John H. Schruben, FAIA (1972)

John H. Schruben, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and founder of MasterSpec, has died at age 96.

An AIA member since 1958, including a five-year tenure as an operations executive, Schruben’s leadership and industry-changing development of MasterSpec transformed production techniques for generations of architects, engineers, landscape architects, and interior designers.

MaterSpec – a product of AIA – is a comprehensive research and selection platform used by major architecture firms and small practices alike to evaluate and specific products for inclusion into their designs. While an employee at the Chicago-based firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) from 1955-1969, Schruben was among the first architects to use computer systems for specifications. When the AIA launched the Production Systems for Architects and Engineers (PSAE) division in 1969 to create an automated master specification system for its members, AIA recruited Schruben to become its first president.

Schruben led the development of MasterSpec specification system, delivering the first system of its kind in the U.S. His contributions continued shaping the system as it evolved to serve advancing technologies. Now distributed by Deltek, MasterSpec has more than 900 master guide specifications covering more than 7,000 products.

“Overall, they are to improve the efficiency and proficiency of production techniques presently used by architecture firms, reduce the cost of that phase of practice, and standardize the terms and procedures used.”  - John H. Schruben on the MasterSpec objectives in 1972

Schruben served at head of PSAE until 1982, when he became Senior Executive Manager for Business Development at AIA. Her retired from AIA in 1987 as Senior Manager, Real Estate Division, then later served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State.

Born in Stockton, Kansas, Schruben joined the U.S Army and served in its Corp of Engineers from 1943 – 1946 before earning an architecture engineering degree from Kansas State University in 1948. In the same year, he would marry Christine Copt and begin his professional career as a staff engineer with Standard Oil Company in Whiting, Indiana. In 1953, he received a Master’s degree in civil & environmental engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Schruben was a veteran of World World II and the father of eight children.

Image credits

A photo of the John Schruben from 1972

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