Founder of the Drexel University Construction Management Program
Joseph Lambert Sr. passed away at his residence at Riddle Village in Media, Pennsylvania on June 15, 2011 at age 96. Joe Lambert was the founder of the Construction Management Program at Drexel University. Joe launched the Construction Management program while serving as a Professor and Department Head of Civil Engineering at Drexel University Evening College in the late 1960’s. Since then, the program has thrived, initially as a part-time offering and becoming a full-time undergraduate cooperative education program in 2004. The Master of Science in Construction Management (MSCM) was launched in 2009. The curriculum that Joe Lambert established all of those years ago has blossomed into a strong, well-respected program which hasproduced outstanding graduates that have gone on to become industry leaders.
Joe Lambert was born in Philadelphia in 1914. He was an only child. His father was a brick-layer who died when Joe was nine years old. Joe spent the remainder of his formative years living with his mother and her sister, who was a bank clerk. Joe graduated from St. Joe’s Prep where he played basketball and as a member of the track team threw the discus and pole- vaulted. He spent a year or so after high school working to help support his household and to obtain tuition to attend college. Joe attended and graduated from the then named Drexel Institute of Technology with a bachelors degree in Civil Engineering. Joe played football, baseball and was captain of the basketball team at Drexel. When Joe first starting playing basketball, the ball had laces and there was a center jump after each goal. Joe completed his formal education at the University of Pennsylvania receiving a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Joe initially worked at the Philadelphia shipyards. He was transferred to the west coast in 1940. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the project he was working on was moved back to Philadelphia. When World War II ended, Joe began parallel careers. He set up a small civil engineering consulting office initially specializing in wooden structures. In the mid 1950s this small group became Lambert, McGee and Costello Engineering with offices in the sixteenth block of Chestnut Street. By the mid 1960s the firm had grown to over twenty engineers and draftsmen. McGee and Costello had left the business and Joe was spending too much of his time managing a business rather than practicing engineering. So he reduced the size of the company. Lambert Consulting Engineering was created. He achieved national stature in his profession as a Registered Professional Engineer in six states and Washington DC.
Concurrently, Joe began teaching in the Civil Engineering Department of the Evening College at Drexel. At that time, Evening College departments were distinct entities from the “Day“College counterpart. Evening College credits were not transferable to the Day College. Over his tenure in the Evening College Department of Civil Engineering he served as instructor, assistant department head from 1951 – 1967, and department head from 1967 – 1975. He servedas chair of the Curriculum committee from 1969 – 1975 and was instrumental in the achievement of the curriculum. He developed the Evening College’s certificate program in Construction Management in 1974 and the degree curriculum initiated in 1975. He was a member of the Consulting Engineers Council, serving them as both state and national chairman of the Education Committee and was recognized as Outstanding Educator in America in 1971. He also spent many of his years at Drexel advocating a Drexel credit as a Drexel credit and applicable to all Drexel degrees.
In his ‘day’ job, Lambert Consulting became known for its work with wood trusses ensuring that complex architectural designs could bear the loads being imposed on them. Much of the work was commissioned for churches in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Joe retired from both his ‘day’ and ‘evening ‘jobs in his mid sixties. Retirement lasted approximately six months as Lambert Consulting, eventually a one man shop, continued to bill over 1500 hours a year until Joe finally stopped practicing as he approached his late eighties. Joe was a much- loved and respected member of the Drexel University AEC Community. In 2010, the Drexel Construction Management Advisory Council (CMAC) presented Joe with a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his significant contributions to his profession, to Drexel University, and especially to the Construction Management Program.
Joe is survived by his son, Joseph Jr., daughter-in-law, Carolyn, grandson, Brian Lambert and granddaughters Karen and Kathleen Lambert. There will be a Memorial Gathering and a luncheon to follow at 11:30 AM on Thursday, June 30. These will take place in the Aster Room which is located in the main building of the Riddle Village, 1048 West Baltimore Pike • Media, PA 19063. Please inform the family if you plan to attend the gathering and luncheon via email to [email protected] at your earliest convenience.
Article Submitted by the Construction Management Program at Drexel University