Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017 Views: 1145
The ventilator was made by a company called H.H. Robertson. The company was founded by Herbert H. Robertson in England. Robertson then moved the company to the U.S. They made a variety of things, among them ventilators for steel mills and glass factories. They went out of business in the 1980s, after about 70 years in business. It looks like the company might still be in business in Australia and New Zealand (take a look http://web.archive.org/web/20091012063012/http://www.hhrobertson.co.za/ventilation.html)
According to an engineer at Steuben, these ventilators are efficient unpowered heat removal devices, designed to be relatively independent of wind speed and direction, and resistant to rain getting in. They have louvers that can open and close, which Corning has used seasonally in various plants. He thinks they were invented for steel mills and foundries originally, and the glass industry adopted them. The principle upon which they work is that hot air rises, and if you provide the hot air a way out and cool make-up air at the floor level, you will replace the atmosphere in the building. The success of the Robertson designs lie in their efficiency and durability (and the fact that they don’t (usually) let rain in). There’s another one in Sullivan Park. The one over Steuben was installed when the Museum was built in 1950. The factory was designed by Harris and Abramowitz, but the Robertson ventilators go back much further.