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Robert A.M. Stern Architects

A Tale of Two Bobs
  • New steel (foreground) meets historic facade (background) at UConn Hartford. Photo credit: Bernstein Associates.
  • The Grove Street addition at Yale's Schwarzman Center is laterally independent from the adjacent University Commons building.

In the 1960s and 1970s, it was quite rare for anyone to hire a structural engineer to design a wood framed house when the builder almost always had the tools they needed – literally and figuratively – to build a stable and secure structure.

Not satisfied with the status quo at the time, Robert AM Stern sought to re-invigorate the classical house. As Stern reconsidered and reset all aspects of the private home, he needed an engineer who was similarly willing to challenge convention and to do so in a way that brought builders into the fold. He found the perfect partner in Bob Silman.

Their collaboration and the work between the firms quickly established Silman as one of the few engineering firms who would willingly design wood framed houses, going beyond published charts and tables, to establish new norms in both wood design and detailing that would become the new convention. As the practice expanded and designs evolved from one movement to another, Bob’s reputation grew and his ability to elegantly design wood frames consistent with a specific aesthetic intent became well known.

The joy that Bob found in manipulating a simple set of building materials into bespoke architecture has now passed through three generations of Silman leadership. To this day, we continue to design hundreds of residential projects a year, many still with RAMSA, and a vast array of owners, architects, and builders who are constantly seeking to ensure that the conventional is never static or status quo.

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