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Male, US, born 1928-02-12, died 2021-02-11

Associated with the firms network

Blume, John A., and Associates (JAB), Engineers; Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, and Robertson, Incorporated, Engineers; Worthington, Skilling, Helle and Jackson, Structural Engineers

Professional History


Eletronics Technician's Mate, U.S. Navy, 1944-09/1945.

Engineer, Kaiser Engineers, CA, 1952-1954.

Engineer, John A. Blume Associates, San Francisco, CA, 1954-1957.

Engineer, Raymond International, CA, c. 1957.

Engineer, unknown firm, New York, NY, c. 1958. According to his obituary in the New York Times, it noted Robertston worked in New York, NY: "[F]or a time, while living in New York, he investigated the collapse of an offshore drilling platform. When that job ended, he decided to head west to California with his family in a Volkswagen convertible. The money ran out in Seattle, and in 1958 he took the first job he could get, at Worthington and Skilling, a structural engineering firm." (See Fred A. Bernstein, New York, "Leslie Robertson, Who Engineered the World Trade Center, Dies at 92," published 02/11/2021, accessed 02/10/2023.)

Engineer, Worthington and Skilling, Structural Engineers, Seattle, WA, 1958-1960.

Engineer, Worthington, Skilling, Helle and Jackson, Structural Engineers, Seattle, WA, 1960-1968.

Partner, Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, Robertson (SHCR), Engineers, Seattle, WA, 1968-1982. SHCR opened a New York office c. 1963, with Robertson in charge.

Principal, Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA), New York, NY, 1982- . (Partners in LERA included in 2007, William Faschan, Saw Teen See, Daniel Sesil and Richard Zottola.)

Professional Awards

Recipient, Engineering News-Record (ENR) Man of the Year, 1989.



B.S., Math, Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Berkeley, CA, 1952.



Born in Manhattan Beach, CA, Leslie E. Robertson spent at least his first two years in Southern CA. In 1929, the Robertsons made their home at 767 Acacia Avenue in Los Angeles. (See the Los Angeles Directory Company's Inglewood, California, City Directory, 1929, p. 264.) A year later, they lived in a rented dwelling at 3162 Vera Avenue in West Los Angeles with his parents, brother and a houskeeper, 54-year-old, Isabella Hoge, according to the U.S. Census of 1930. The family paid $50 per month in rent, more than average for the immediate neighborhood. (See, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Page: 37A; Enumeration District: 0127; FHL microfilm: 2339872, accessed 02/10/2023.

Garnett seems to have left Los Angeles during in the early-to-mid-1930s, and returned to Oakland, CA, where he lived as a boy. His parents had moved from IL to Oakland by 1910. (See Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Oakland Ward 7, Alameda, California; Roll: T624_71; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 1374084, accessed 02/10/2023.) Leslie's father remarried in Oakland in 1935, and lived in the East Bay for another 30 years, before finally relocating to Northern CA.

The 1940 US Census located Leslie living with his parents and brother on Moraga Road in Lafayette, CA. This house had a modest value of $3,500, relatively low by Bay Area standards of the time. (See, Source Citation Year: 1940; Census Place: Contra Costa, California; Roll: m-t0627-00195; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 7-14, accessed 02/10/2023.) They continued to live on Moraga Road on 02/15/1942, when Garnett Robertson filled out his World War II draft registration card (See, Source Citation National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1528, accessed 02/10/2023.)

He left the area during World War II, but returned at war's end. He found work in a succession of CA engineering firms before moving to Seattle, WA, in 1958, where he found a position with the young firm, Worthington Skilling. This firm gained a world-wide clientele base, allowing Robertson to travel widely. Worthington Skilling became Skilling Helle Christiansen Robertson (SHCR) c. 1963, and the firm opened a New York, NY, branch. Robertson moved to New York at this time to head the new office. Robertson was the office's lead design engineer on the enormous World Trade Center project, a commission that architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986) had obtained in 1962.

In 1982, the renamed Skilling Helle Christiansen Robertson firm split, with Robertson taking control of the New York office. subsequently renamed it "Leslie E. Robertson Associates." He

Late in life, Leslie Robertson suffered from a type of blood cancer, and he died at this residence in San Mateo, CA, at the age of 92.


Leslie Robertson's father Garnett Roy Robertson (born 05/25/1900 in Los Angeles, CA-d. 05/14/1991 in Humboldt County, CA) married his mother Tinabel F. Grantham (born c. 1904 in MI) on 01/14/1924 in Los Angeles, CA. (See, Source Citation California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images. Source Information California, U.S., County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017, accessed 02/10/2023.) Tinabel had been born in MI, but her family had relocated to Oakland, CA, by 1910. She lived with her mother and two siblings at 870 Chester Street in Oakland, but no father was listed in the 1910 US Census record. It appears that her mother Flora Grantham (born c. 1881 in NJ) made money by running a boarding house. At this time, three single men lodged with the Granthams. (See, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Oakland Ward 4, Alameda, California; Roll: T624_70; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0112; FHL microfilm: 1374083, accessed 02/10/2023.) TInabel worked as a clerk in 1930, as per a 1930 Los Angeles voter's register. Her marriage to Garnett dissolved by the early 1930s, and she did not seem to play a leading role in Leslie's life after his father left Los Angeles before 1935.

At least two different dates of birth have been used for him, one, 05/25/1900, and the other, 05/25/1901. (For 05/25/1901, see the California Death Index,, Source Citation Place: Humboldt; Date: 14 May 1991; Social Security: 572161751 Source Information: California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000, accessed 02/10/2023.) Both of Garnett's World War I and II draft registration cards listed the 05/25/1900 date.

Garnett worked in a variety of jobs, many utilizing his mechanical abilities. In 1919, he worked as a seaman for the US Shipping Board aboard the vessel, Coconino, in the Port of San Francisco. He applied for a Seaman's Protection Certificate on 06/05/1919. (See, Source Citation Washington, D.C.; The National Archives and Records Administration; Application for Seaman´s Protection Certificates; NAI: 2788575; Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation; Record Group Number: 41; Box Number: 090 - San Francisco, accessed 02/10/2023.) He retrofitted vaudeville theatres into movie palaces in Chicago, IL, for example. As noted in the US census of 1930, he worked as a salesman for a "specialties" company. (See, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Page: 37A; Enumeration District: 0127; FHL microfilm: 2339872, accessed 02/10/2023. According to a 2007 article on him, Robertson described his father's work "'...being an inventor, machinist, manager, rancher, salesman and seaman, with lots of stops between. He had a wonderful ability to see things. Little escaped his vision." (See Richard G. Weingardt, Structure, "Skyscraper Superstar," 06/2007, accessed 08/26/2010.) By 1950, Garnett had become a realtor working in Contra Costa, CA. He and Zelda resided at 3299 Beechwood Drive in Lafayette, CA, at that time. (See, Source Citation United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: Contra Costa, California; Roll: 3274; Sheet Number: 71; Enumeration District: 7-23A, accessed 02/10/2023.) By the late 1960s, Garnett and Zelda lived in Eureka, CA, where he died in 1991.

His parents named Leslie for their family friend, the actor, Leslie Howard (1893-1943).

His parents divorced when Leslie was young, and Garnett Robertson remarried to Zelda Ziegel on 10/19/1935 in Oakland, CA. (See, Source Information California, U.S., Marriage Records from Select Counties, 1850-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 02/10/2023.) Zelda, who managed the household, helped to raise him.

By 02/15/1942, Garnett worked for the Vulcan Foundry in Oakland, CA. (See, Source Citation National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1528, accessed 02/10/2023.)

An older brother, Taylor Donald Robertson (born 08/12/1926 in Los Angeles County, CA-d. 05/14/2013 in Willits, CA) became a forester.


Leslie Robertson married three times. The first was to Elizabeth Joanna Zublin (born c. 04/11/1933 in Fort Worth, TX), whom he wed on 09/25/1951 in Alameda County, CA. Her parents were Eugenia Shapiro (born 08/08/1904 in Warsaw, Poland) and Ernst Wilhelm Zublin (born 10/14/1897 in Buenos Aries, Argentina). He worked as a chemist and moved to the US by 01/31/1924. (See, Source Citation The National Archives At Fort Worth; Forth Worth, TX; Declarations Of Intention For Citizenship, 1907-1959; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, accessed 02/10/2023.) The Zublins lived in Fort Worth in 1930 and San Francisco a decade later. Leslie and Elizabeth met while at the University of California, Berkeley, while they were still undergraduate students.

He married his third wife Saw Teen See, a noted engineer, in 1982. (See, Source Citation New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, accessed 02/10/2023.)

Robertson was one of Worthington, Skilling, Helle and Jackson's two prime Structural Engineers (along with John Skilling) for the World Trade Center (New York, NY, 1966-1973) done in association with Michigan-based architect, Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986).

Associated Locations

  • Los Angeles, CA (Architect's Birth)
    Los Angeles, CA

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PCAD id: 2529