Associate Professor Adjunct
Nat Oppenheimer is an Executive Vice President and Senior Principal at Silman. Nat joined the firm in 1988 and has extensive experience in the areas of new construction, renovation, sustainable engineering, and historic preservation as Principal in Charge of much of the firm’s institutional, private residential, and educational work.
Nat is a board member of the Architectural League of New York, currently serving as its Treasurer. Since 2013, he has been an active participant of the Industry Advisory Group for the US Department of State Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. Since 2016, Nat has been a member of the Van Alen Institute International Council. He is also a member of the Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group, an interdisciplinary group of A/E leaders who are advocating to end the use of modern slavery in the supply chain and labor for the built environment.
Nat is devoted to engineering education and teaches at the Graduate School of Architecture at Princeton University. He has also taught courses at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and at Parsons, the New School for Design. He has been an invited jury critic for the architecture schools at Columbia, Princeton, Rice, Parsons, and the University of Michigan. He has lectured at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, at the Oklahoma State University School of Architecture.
Nat was formerly a member of the Board of Directors of the Salvadori Center, a not-for-profit organization that uses the built environment as a motivational tool to teach math and science to students.
View Nat Oppenheimer's CV here.
Projects & Links
New Canaan, CT
2015 | 83,000 sf
Architect: SANAA, Handel Architects (Executive Architect)
Awards: 2016 Architizer A+ Awards, Jury Winner – Plus Categories | Concepts –Architecture+Engineering; 2014/2015 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP); 2017 AIA Awards, Architecture; 2016 AIA Connecticut Design Awards, Built Design – Commercial, Institutional/Educational, Public/Municipal, Multi-Family, Interiors – Honor Awards; 2017 AIA Awards, Architecture
The River Building for the Grace Farms Foundation blends into its surroundings, minimally impacting views across what was formerly farmland. The complex of glass- walled buildings – a sanctuary, a library, a dining hall, a pavilion, and a gymnasium – connected by a sloping, winding roof. The project is LEED Silver certified.
The final structural design comprises three primary elements: Hundreds of “flag pole” steel pipe columns, each individually fixed at their base, provide an overall lateral system that does not require crossing beams. A series of 10-inch by 10-inch steel beams curve in both axes and were fabricated through a digital transfer of data be- tween Silman and the fabricator. A single glulam type and size was modified throughout to address site-specific challenges. This included adding steel to create trusses over long spans and additional outrigger framing at longer overhangs. Local carpenters were able to build much of the roof structure, as the infill framing consisted primarily of standard sawn lumber or laminated wood beams for the longer spans.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC
2019 | 4.6 acres (landscape); 72,000 sf (new buildings) | $180 million
Architect: Steven Holl Architects (Design Architect); BNIM (Associate Architect)
Awards: 2020 AIA New York Design Awards – Architecture, Honor Award
Located on the banks of the Potomac River, the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts is the nation’s busiest arts facility and home to the National
Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet.
The existing building was designed by Edward Durell Stone and opened in 1971.
The South Plaza Expansion project adds much-needed space for education,
rehearsal, and events. It consists of three partially-buried white concrete pavilions
cascading towards the river. The northern pavilion is the Entry Pavilion, the center is
the Glissando Pavilion, and the southern pavilion is the River Pavilion. A pedestrian
bridge spans Rock Creek Parkway, linking the new facilities to the waterfront.
Silman also designed the 2-story below grade structure that connects the pavilions
and sits under the occupiable landscape. The terrace level and pavilion roof slabs
consist of long span post-tensioned slab systems. A series of ruled vaults run
throughout the multi-level terrace that is framed in cast-in-place concrete. A parking
garage is also located below grade.