Construction workers on the 104-year-old Midtown Manhattan building where a chunk of masonry fell and killed a New Yorker, have said the building is crumbling before their eyes.
Everest Scaffolding employees erected the pedestrian safety walkways by 9am Wednesday – more than a year after owners of 729 Seventh Avenue were ordered to put up scaffolding and repair the building’s facade.
New York architect Erica Tishman, 60, was killed by the damaged brickwork Tuesday around 10.45am after a firm was hired to issue a permit for sidewalk sheds to protect pedestrians.
Holding debris in his hand an anonymous worker said Wednesday: ‘The limestone and stucco is just crumbling, you can see.’
A worker held debris in his hand Wednesday as he said about 729 Seventh Avenue: ‘The limestone and stucco is just crumbling, you can see’
NYC architect Erica Tishman, 60, was killed by falling masonry on Tuesday. The 17-story building on 49th Street was constructed in 1915 and owners were told to put up sheds after was cited for damaged masonry in October 2018
The owners of the 17-story building constructed in 1915, were cited in October 2018 for ‘a failure to maintain exterior building facade and appurtenances’.
In their October inspection, city building inspectors wrote that there was ‘damaged terra cotta at areas above the 15th floor in several locations which posed a falling hazard for pedestrians’.
Yet despite the obvious warnings, no sidewalk sheds were erected despite the recommendations.
In April, the property owners ended up paying a $1250 fine.
On July 18, the owners, 729 Acquisition LLC, renewed a construction permit for ‘Masonry repair and parapet replacement at penthouse and main roof level,’ according to records seen by the New York Post.
As recently as last month the building’s management told the city how it planned to install scaffolding up to 150 feet tall for the repairs.
An inspector said about the new pedestrian walkway after the scaffolding was complete by 9am Wednesday: ‘It’s a decent shed, it went up fast’
An anonymous worker added: ‘It’s pretty bad. They had to wait ‘til someone died’
Nothing appeared to have been done until Tuesday evening when scaffolding was finally being installed after Tishman, the founding partner of DeWitt Tishman Architects LLP, died.
One of the workers described the building as ‘ugly’ and told the New York Post Wednesday: ‘It’s pretty bad. They had to wait ‘til someone died.’
The Department of Buildings ranked it a ‘class 1’ violation, which required that the infraction ‘must be corrected immediately.’
One of two inspectors on site said Wednesday: ‘It shouldn’t have happened. I was here yesterday. We wrote a violation and then we knocked it down from a Class 1 [the highest severity]. They’re lawyers, man.’
He added about the new protective construction: ‘It’s a decent shed, it went up fast.’
Tishman, pictured with her husband Steven and daughter Julia, is the mother of three adult children who proudly posted about her sons’ Adam and Stuart’s engagements. She is pictured being honored by the Educational Alliance in March 2011 – and was the first woman ever to chair the board there
Several missing pieces could be seen on the building’s facade on Tuesday. The building had recently been cited by the city for damaged masonry that poses a falling hazard
City records show that the property was also fined in April for ‘failure to maintain exterior building facade and appurtenances’
The area is popular with tourists and typically sees heavy foot traffic throughout the day
After her death on Tuesday, The Department of Buildings ordered that the sidewalk shed be finally put up.
The building owners issued a statement.
‘This is a tragedy, and the family and friends of the victim are in our thoughts. No pedestrian should be at risk from dangerous facade conditions.
‘Department of Buildings engineers are on the scene to perform a full structural stability inspection of the building to ensure all New Yorkers are safe, and conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this tragic incident.’
The building is in one of the busiest part of Manhattan located just feet away from Times Square.
49th Street, directly below, is one of the busiest streets in New York, with easy access to Rockefeller Center and multiple subway train lines passing underneath.
The M&M store which is always bustling with tourists is just steps away meaning that if and when any kind of brickwork were to fall to the ground, there was always a strong likelihood that someone would be hit.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will conduct an investigation into the incident.
‘It’s a horrible incident,’ he said. ‘My heart goes out to the family. There’s obviously a full investigation going on.
‘We need to know how that happened and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.’
Tishman was declared dead at the scene.
Tishman had been a licensed architect since 1985, and was a member of the American Institute of Architects. She and her husband were both members of Central Synagogue in Manhattan, and she had served as a trustee at the temple
A view of the building from street level is seen. The 17-story building was constructed in 1915
The building’s owner, Himmel + Meringoff, owns 12 commercial buildings in Manhattan, most of them in Midtown.
‘This is a tragedy, and the family and friends of the victim are in our thoughts. No pedestrian should be at risk from dangerous façade conditions,’ The Department of Buildings said in a statement.
The first floor of the building is a commercial space that includes a clothing store and a large souvenir shop catering to tourists.
In 2018 the building owners secured a $60 million refinancing of the mixed-use office property from Signature Bank.
Tishman’s office was just a few blocks away from where she was struck and killed by the falling masonry.
The mother-of-three received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1981, and a master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Her grandfather, the late Abraham M. Lindenbaum, was president of the Brooklyn Law School.
She had been a licensed architect since 1985, and was a member of the American Institute of Architects.
She married Steven Howard Tishman in 1982, in a ceremony at the Plaza Hotel, according to a wedding announcement in the New York Times.
Her husband was described as ‘financial analyst with the Zayre Corporation, a self-service department-store chain with headquarters in Framingham’.
Education Alliance CEO Alan van Capelle posted a tribute to Tishman, praising her for being the first woman to chair the board in its 130-year history
Senator Brad Hoylman made a statement and said a full investigation was urgently needed
First responders are seen on the scene after a woman was struck by falling debris Tuesday
Officers are seen securing the sidewalk where the fatal incident occurred near Times Square
The couple had three children, now adults: Adam, Stuart, and Julia.
According to her profile on temple’s site, Tishman is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Real Estate Committee for the Educational Alliance, a social service agency located in lower Manhattan that serves 50,000 New Yorkers annually.
The Alliance’s President and CEO, Alan van Capelle posted a heartfelt tribute to Tishman after the tragedy.
Tishman also served as a board of trustees member, and chair of facilities for Riverdale Country School for 12 years and currently oversees their Capital Projects. She was also chair for the Alumni Schools Committee for Princeton University.
After the tragedy, Senator Brad Hoylman wrote on Facebook: ‘Eight months ago, a building in the heart of my district and near many Broadway theaters was issued a violation for ‘failure to maintain building wall(s) or appurtenances.
‘Today a woman walking past it lost her life when debris fell and hit her. I’m urging the city to look at this case very closely. If there was any wrongdoing involved, the full weight of the law must be directed at the responsible parties.’