Robert Silman, USA

The International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) awards Honorary Membership 2015 to Robert Silman, USA. The award is presented to him ‘in high appreciation of his outstanding and dedicated services to the Association’.

Robert Silman graduated from Cornell University with a BA in  government  in 1956 and with BCE and an M.Sc. in civil engineering from New York University in 1960 and 1963. He subsequently worked with   two  consulting engineering firms in New York and with Ove Arup and Partners in London before founding his own consulting firm in 1966. He is currently the President Emeritus of that firm, Silman.  Robert Silman is an expert in historical and modern construction systems and was among the earliest professionals interested in sustainable design. He is an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York chapter. Robert Silman’s many interests bridge between architecture, structural engineering, history, sustainability, and preservation. He is knowledgeable about construction systems in the United States dating back to the country’s earliest building types. On the basis of 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 is past-Chairman, representing the fields of engineering and preservation education.  He has previously taught at Yale University, Columbia University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York  and is currently on the faculty at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard where he teaches a seminar in the Philosophy of Technology as well as a course in conservation of older buildings. 

His passion for education and the development of young professionals has led him to introduce many innovative ideas to IABSE, among them, an integrative design workshop in Helsinki in 1988 and in New Delhi in 1992, and sustainable design in the 1999 Rio de Janeiro Symposium for which he was also the Scientific Chair. He served founding Chair of Working Commission 7 on Sustainable Engineering and was instrumental in obtaining the passage of IABSE’s Ethical Principles for the Practice of Structural Engineering in 2002. His abiding interest in green engineering led to his authorship of the declaration on sustainable development. He has contributed as a member of several Scientific Committees of IABSE conferences; member of WC 5 on ‘Design Methods and Processes’ (1991-1999) and as a member of the Technical Committee (1995-2003). In 2004 he was awarded the IABSE Foundation’s Anton Tedesko Medal.