Obituary


Robert Silman

President Emeritus of Silman, the structural engineering firm he founded in 1966 (previously known as Robert Silman Associates, P.C.). 
 

Mr. Silman was a leading expert in historic preservation, as evidenced by his work on Carnegie Hall, Fallingwater, and the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island, to name only a few. In 2004 Mr. Silman was awarded the Anton Tedesko Medal by the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers (IABSE) for his pioneering work on sustainability in structural engineering. In 2009 he received the AIA New York Chapter Award for his accomplishments in the field of engineering and for his contributions to the built environment in the City of New York.  In 2010 he received the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Leadership Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy. In 2013 Mr. Silman received the Association for Preservation Technology International’s highest honor, the Harley J. McKee award. In 2015 Mr. Silman was awarded the Louis de Pont Crowninshield Award, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s highest national recognition of an individual.

He had a keen understanding of construction systems in the United States dating back to the country’s earliest building types. For his outstanding professional qualifications the Secretary of the Interior appointed Mr. Silman to the Advisory Board for the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, for which he was past-Chairman, representing the fields of engineering and preservation education. He was most recently on the faculty at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard where he taught a seminar in the Philosophy of Technology.

Mr. Silman was an international leader in the promotion of sustainable design and green building practices. As Founder of the Working Commission 7 on Sustainable Design for IABSE, he chaired their annual symposium in Rio de Janeiro, devoted to issues of sustainability. He lectured at various conferences and wrote numerous articles on sustainability for Structural Engineering International.  He was a member of the consortium writing the High Performance Guidelines for New York City Capital Construction Projects sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Construction. In association with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Friends of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Mr. Silman assisted in writing the Pocantico Proclamation on Historic Preservation and Sustainability. This work was followed with the Nashville Challenge in October 2009, co-chaired by Mr. Silman. He transformed the standard practices at Silman so that the firm’s specifications and design methodologies incorporated and promoted the principles of sustainability


Education
  • Master of Civil Engineering, New York University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Cornell University
  • Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Cum Laude, New York University

Professional Experience
  • Silman, 1966 – present
  • Ammann & Whitney, 1964 – 1965
  • Ove Arup & Partners (London), 1963 – 1964
  • Severud Associates, 1960 – 1963
  • Tishman Realty & Construction Co., 1957 – 1958

Teaching
  • Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Lecturer, 2014 – present
  • Columbia University, Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, 1986 – 2000 and 2008 – 2013
  • Yale University, Adjunct Professor of Architecture, School of Architecture, 2001 – 2005
  • City College of New York, School of Architecture, Adjunct Professor, Philosophy of Technology, 2006
  • Cornell University, College of Architecture Art & Planning, Visiting Critic, Building Renovation Technology, 2007
  • Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York, 1973 – 1985

Professional Non-Profit Affiliations
  • James Marston Fitch Foundation, Trustee
  • American Concrete Institute, Member
  • American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter, Honorary Member
  • American Society of Civil Engineers, Fellow
  • Architectural League of New York (Past Vice President), Member
  • Association for Preservation Technology, Member
  • Boston Preservation Alliance, Member
  • International Association for Bridge & Structural Engineering, Working Comm 7, Past Chairman
  • National Center for Preservation Technology & Training Board, Past Chairman
  • New York State Preservation League, Member
  • Structural Engineers Association of New York, Member


Other Affiliations
  • Century Association, Member
  • Cornell University, Alumni Council for the College of Architecture Art and Planning

Registrations

Professional Engineer: CT, DC, KY, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT


Awards
  • 2015 National Trust for Historic Preservation Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award
  • 2015 International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Honorary Member
  • 2013 Association for Preservation Technology International Harley J. McKee Award
  • 2011 Carpenters’ Company Philadelphia Master Builder Award
  • 2011 New York Concrete Industry Board Leader of Industry Award
  • 2010 New York Landmarks Conservancy Preservation Leadership Award
  • 2009 AIA New York Chapter President’s Award
  • 2006-2007 Structural Engineers Association of New York Honorary Member
  • 2006 Historic Districts Council (New York City) Landmarks Lion Award
  • 2004 International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering - Anton Tedesko Medal
  • 1996 NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, Certificate of Achievement for the Art of Structural Preservation
  • 1989 Municipal Arts Society of New York, Certificate of Merit for work on landmark buildings
  • 1988 American Society of Civil Engineers, election as Fellow
  • 1987 American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter, elected as Honorary Member

Contemporaries and Industry Relationships
  • Frederick A. (Fred) Bland FAIA, AICP
    • Managing Partner, Beyer Blinder Belle
  • Jack Beyer FAIA, AICP
    • Founding Partner, Beyer Blinder Belle
  • Peg Breen
    • President, The New York Landmarks Conservancy
  • James Stewart (Jim) Polshek, FAIA
    • Design Counsel, Ennead Architects
    • Founder, Polshek Partnership
  • Renzo Piano
  • Guy Nordenson
  • Edgar Tafel (deceased)
  • Jan Hird Pokorny (deceased)

 

Publications

Architecture Boston, “Technology’s Role in Historic Preservation,” September 2015.

Medieval and Renaissance Famagusta, Chapter 17 on “The Historic Walled City of Famagusta, 2008,” co- authored with Kent Severson. Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2012.

Structural Engineering International, “Eminent Structural Engineer: Anton Tedesko (1903-1994),” May 2011, pp241-243

Fallingwater, Rizzoli Books, April 2011, Chapter on Strengthening of Falllingwater.

The Structural Engineer, “The Role of the Structural Engineer in Green Building” by John Anderson & Robert Silman, pp. 28-31, February 2009

Structural Engineer International, “A Life Cycle Inventory of Structural Engineering Design Strategies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction” by John Anderson & Robert Silman, pp 283-288, August 2009

APT Bulletin, The Journal of Preservation Technology - 40th Anniversary Issue, Vol. XL, No. 3-4, 2009, “Preservation Engineering: Past, Present, and Future,” Derek Trelstad & Robert Silman, pp. 27-32.

APT Bulletin, Journal of Preservation Technology, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 4, 2007, “Is Preservation Technology Neutral?”

Structural Engineering International, no. 3, August 2004: “Sustainable Engineering – Using Specifications to Make It Happen.” p. 216-219. Co-authored by Helena Meryman & Robert Silman

ACEC Metropolitan Section, Structures Spring Seminar Proceedings (2003) : “Fallingwater - Repairing the Concrete Cantilevers.” p. 71-76. Co-authored by John Matteo & Robert Silman

Structure, National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, Council of American Structural Engineers, Structural Engineering Institute, “Repair & Retrofit, Is Fallingwater Falling Down?” Jul/Aug 01

Scientific American, Volume 283, Number 3, “The Plan to Save Fallingwater,” September 2000

APT Bulletin, Association of Preservation Technology, “Structural Repairs to Fire-Damaged Guastavino Tile Vaults at Grand Central Terminal’s Oyster Bar,” 1999

Caring for Your Historic House, National Institute of Conservation, Chapter “Structural Systems,” 1998

High Performance Guidelines for New York City Capital Construction Projects (consortium member), The Mayor’s Office of Construction, 1998

Structural Engineering International, volume 1/96, Editorial on “Sustainable Development.”

APT Bulletin, No. 1-2, 1996, Association for Preservation Technology, “Application of Non-Destructive Evaluation Techniques in Historic Buildings.”

Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, McGraw Hill, Entry on “Buildings,” 1995

The Structural Preservation of Our Architectural Heritage, International Association for Bridge & Structural Engineering, Symposium, Rome, 1993, “Non Destructive Evaluation Techniques in Historic Buildings.”

Cultural Resource Management Bulletin, National Park Service, “Collection of Structural Artifacts.”