Robert Silman
Sam Lahoz; Courtesy AIA New York Robert Silman

Robert Silman, who founded his eponymous structural engineering firm in the 1960s, died on July 31 in Great Barrington, Mass. He was 83.

Born on May 19, 1935, Silman earned bachelor's degrees from Cornell University and New York University, as well as a master's degree in civil engineering from New York University, according to materials provided by Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineers. Before founding his own firm in 1966, he worked at Ammann & Whitney, Ove Arup & Partners, Severud Associates, and Tishman Realty & Construction Co. Over the course of his career, he taught at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies; Cornell University's College of Architecture Art & Planning; the City College of New York's School of Architecture; Yale University's School of Architecture; Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and, most recently, the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The firm, more commonly referred to simply as Silman, today operates offices in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Boston. In addition to its well-known structural retrofitting of Fallingwater, the firm has also collaborated on multiple AIA-award winning projects.

Silman himself was also the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 AIA New York Chapter President’s Award, the 2010 New York Landmarks Conservancy Preservation Leadership Award, and the 2015 National Trust for Historic Preservation Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award. He was also a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and an honorary member of the AIA New York Chapter, the Structural Engineers Association of New York, and the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

"Those who knew Bob professionally will miss his calm, encouraging presence and his inspiring words and actions," said Joseph Tortorella, the firm's president, in a statement. "He built the firm that bears his name with a strong humanistic vision: to create a place that was different from any other, a place where people loved to come to work, and a place where engineering made the world better."

Silman is survived by his wife, Roberta, and their children Miriam, Joshua, and Ruth. According to an obituary published in the Berkshire Edage, a funeral service was held on Sunday in Great Barrington. A memorial is planned for later this year in New York.