Robert Silman, PE, President Emeritus

Past Principal
Past PrincipalBoston

Professional Highlights

  • Master of Civil Engineering, New York University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Cornell University
  • Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Cum Laude, New York University
  • Silman, 1966 – present
  • Ammann & Whitney, 1964 – 1965
  • Ove Arup & Partners (London), 1963 – 1964
  • Severud Associates, 1960 – 1963
  • Tishman Realty & Construction Co., 1957 – 1958
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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


Robert Silman is President Emeritus of Silman, the firm that he founded in 1966. He formerly directed all phases of its operations, including the supervision of design, production of contract documents, construction, contract negotiations, and cost review. In his emeritus role, Mr. Silman performs quality assurance reviews of current projects and advises and mentors younger staff. The firm divides its time evenly between projects of new construction, alteration, renovation, and preservation with Mr. Silman continuing to contribute his knowledge in all of these areas and in all structural materials – steel, concrete, timber, fabric, aluminum, plastic, carbon fiber, and glass.

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. And in 2013 the Association for Preservation Technology International bestowed on him its highest honor, the Harley J. McKee award. Mr. Silman has particular expertise in historic preservation, as evidenced by his work on Carnegie Hall, Fallingwater, and the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island. 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 is currently on the faculty at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard where he teaches a seminar in the Philosophy of Technology.

Mr. Silman is an international leader in the promotion of sustainable design and “green” building practices. As Founder of the Working Commission 7 on Sustainable Design for the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering, he chaired their annual symposium in Rio di Janeiro, devoted to issues of sustainability. He has lectured at various conferences and written a number of articles on sustainability for Structural Engineering International, and 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 has led his entire office to completely revise the firm’s specifications and design methodologies to incorporate principles of sustainability.