In September 1959, the world-famous structural engineer Eduardo Torroja organized and convened an International Colloquium on Shell Structures in Madrid. During this Colloquium, Professor Torroja proposed the founding of the International Association for Shell Structures (IASS), because at that time shell structures were frequently used all over the world to roof buildings of all sorts, e.g., sports facilities, exhibition halls and industrial plants, as well as to fulfill industrial purposes through such structures as tanks, silos and cooling towers. He wanted to create a platform where the top scientists, designers and constructors of the world would meet and exchange their ideas and experiences. There should be regular meetings, correspondence and a bulletin published regularly. His proposal was enthusiastically accepted by the distinguished group of designers and engineers at the colloquium, and the IASS was born with Prof. Torroja as both the inspiration and the founding president.
Since that time the Association has developed and become an internationally renowned institution of high quality, attracting a great number of distinguished members. Regularly, Symposia, Colloquia and Conferences took place all over the world, and a number of Working Groups undertook all kinds of efforts concerning the design, analysis and construction of shells. In the Bulletin of the IASS (the predecessor to the current Journal of the IASS) a wide range of theoretical and practical problems were treated, and both small and important buildings were described.
In the late 1960s, changes were occurring in the building industry. New sorts of construction began to flourish for large spans -- spatial structures of steel, timber and fabrics — while shells became less frequent. Consequently the purpose and scope of the Association were enlarged, as represented by the change in name effective in 1970 to the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, although the acronym and logo of the Association remained IASS to help preserve the heritage of the organization. Since that time, the IASS has treated the design, analysis, construction and research for practically all kinds of buildings and other long-span, light-weight structures. In 1995, to reflect its influence on the fields of shell and spatial structures, the name of the Bulletin of the IASS was changed to the Journal of the IASS; and in 2010, the frequency of publication of the Journal was increased from three to four times per year.
A number of well known specialists in these fields of structures have served as Presidents, and other distinguished architects, engineers and academics have collaborated voluntarily with the Association in the Executive Council and Advisory Board. Hundreds of individuals have contributed to the Bulletin and Journal, belonged to the Working Groups, and attended the Symposia and Colloquia. The IASS has continually recognized both established and young contributors to the field by such Honors and Awards as Honorary Membership, the Eduardo Torroja Medal, the Tsuboi Awards, and the Hangai prizes.
Traditionally, the Secretariat headquarters is located in Madrid, Spain, in the same place where the IASS was founded while Eduardo Torroja was its Director, the Laboratorio Central de Estructuras y Materiales, integrated into a wider organization: CEDEX or Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas.
With the launching of this website for the IASS in November 2007, the Journal of the IASS embarked upon a new development, the publication of an electronic version on this site that promises to reach an even wider audience in the current day and age of enhanced communication.
In 2009, the IASS celebrated its 50th anniversary at its Jubilee Symposium held in Valencia, Spain. Inspired by this landmark in the life of the Association, a volume, Fifty Years of Progress for Shell and Spatial Structures, was published in 2011. This book remains on sale by the IASS, click the cover figure or the title above for more information.
In 2016, the website of the Association was expanded to include the full proceedings of the annual symposia held since 2013. And in 2018, the IASS has completely revised and modernized its website system, including third-party journal curation and hosting of the journal and proceedings.
Every ten years in the life of the Association, the annual symposium is traditionally held in Spain, the country of its founding. The 60th anniversary of the IASS is to be celebrated at IASS 2019 in Barcelona.