Dezeen Magazine

Architect killed by falling debris from building in New York

New York architect Erica Tishman has died after being hit by a piece of falling debris in Midtown Manhattan yesterday.

Tishman, aged 60, was struck on the head by the debris on Tuesday 17 December, and was pronounced dead at the scene at around 10.45 am local time yesterday.

The debris fell from 729 7th Avenue, a 17-storey mixed-use building completed in 1915 on 49th Street, near Times Square, the New York Times reported.

Building had damaged facade

The Department of Buildings had fined the building's owners Himmel + Meringoff Properties in April this year, after finding that its terra cotta facade was damaged.

The violation cited a "failure to maintain exterior building facade" and was listed as a Class 1 – the highest level of severity, which necessitates immediate action.

Himmel + Meringoff Properties was given the approval to start repairs on the exterior in November but were yet to install scaffolding or a protective cover. Work on installing a sidewalk shed began after the fatality, according to the New York Times.

Tishman previously principal of DeWitt Tishman

Tishman, née Erica Lindenbaum, studied at Princeton University and gained her master's degree in architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She was awarded her architecture licence in New York in 1988.

She joined Manhattan firm DeWitt Tishman in 1993 one year after it was founded by architect Peter DeWitt, who added Tishman to the practice's name.

The firm has completed a number of projects in New Jersey, such as residential buildings 333 River Street, the Sovereign, the Constitution, and Trump Plaza Residences.

DeWitt Tishman's aesthetic, particularly its use of brickwork, was celebrated in a 2004 New York Times article.

"We are not timid in our choice of brickwork and colours," Tishman told the publication at the time. "We make bold use of pattern and colour, which I think is what is very distinctive about our buildings."

At the time of her death, Tishman was vice president at project management company Zubatkin Owner Representation, which has offices located a 10-minute walk from 729 7th Avenue.