APT Tribute

Robert Silman named Harley McKee Award Recipient



The Harley J. McKee Award, the highest honor bestowed by APT, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of preservation technology. In 2013, APT is happy to announce the recipient prior to the Annual Conference, to launch the APT Tribute, Conference event, celebrating the award recipient and the College of Fellow inductees. Tickets to the APT Tribute on Sunday, October 13, 2013, may be purchased separately.

APT is pleased to announce this year's recipient is Robert Silman, of Robert Silman Associates.

Early in his career, in 1966, Robert Silman founded his eponymous engineering firm in New York City. Today Robert Silman Associates employs a staff of more than 125 among its three offices in Greenwich Village, Washington, DC, and Boston. RSA is a leader in the industry with regard to emerging technologies and concepts.

President for over 45 years, Mr. Silman built a firm noted for its collaborative spirit in the design of new architectural works and on many of the largest and most noteworthy renovations and additions in this country, including The Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Immigration at Ellis Island, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the Jefferson Memorial, and New York’s Washington Square Arch.

Early on, the firm consulted on many residential rehabilitations of
tenement buildings in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. This extensive work on older structures provided a natural lead into RSA's work on historic structures, beginning with Carnegie Hall in the early 1970s. Landmark legislation and guidelines were in their infancy then and members of the staff learned the necessary principles through on-the-job experience. RSA has consulted on more than 400 registered landmark-designated buildings. Today, work on historic structures accounts for approximately 20% of the practice's efforts.

 Mr. Silman is a teacher who is knowledgeable about construction systems in the United States dating back to the country's earliest building types. He shares his expertise with staff and students at several universities. 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.


Mr. Silman is also an international leader in the promotion of sustainable design and "green" building practices. As early as 1975, RSA served as a consultant for a US Department of Energy study that investigated methods for reducing not only operating energy consumption, but also embodied energy. The firm pioneered the use of Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) techniques for existing and historic buildings, and has been at the forefront of sustainable design strategies.


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.

He is the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 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as well as the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Leadership Award (nicknamed the “Preservation Oscars”) in 2010 from the New York Landmarks Conservancy. In addition, one recent engineering graduate per year is selected to work on various restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation projects at the 27 National Trust Historic Sites nationwide as a Robert Silman Fellow at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Robert Silman Fellow is required to complete an article of benefit to the field of historic preservation suitable for publication in a professional journal and for presentation at a conference. Upon successful completion of the fellowship, the Robert Silman Fellow will be hired as a full-time employee of Robert Silman Associates.


Roberta Silman, Bob’s wife, is an author. They have three children and five grandchildren.



Join us at the APT Tribute, at the New York Public Library at 42nd and 5th, on Sunday, October 13 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available to Conference registrants for $95. For tickets to the APT Tribute only, the price is $150. (This is the only APT NYC 2013 Special Event open to non-registrants.) Purchase your tickets now>


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