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Falling Facade Debris Kills NYC Architect


By Dan Hounsell Facilities Management
New York city street with pedestrians

Buildings were an important part of a prominent Manhattan architect’s life, and in the end, a building caused her death. 

Erica Tishman, 60, was killed by a chunk of facade that fell from a Manhattan building whose owners knew for more than a year that the structure was crumbling — but did nothing to fix it, according to The New York Post. Tishman was hit with the debris while on 49th Street near Seventh Avenue. Police said she was pronounced dead at the scene.

But the freakish death was entirely avoidable, according to experts and records reviewed by The Post. The owners of 729 Seventh Ave. obtained permits to repair its deteriorating roof and 17th-floor facade in October 2018 but sat on their hands — leading to a $1,250 citation from the city on April 29, 2019, for “Failure to maintain exterior building facade and appurtenances.”

Buildings inspectors specifically flagged the “damaged terra cotta at areas above 15th floor in several locations which poses a falling hazard for pedestrians.”

The city’s Department of Buildings ranked it a “class 1” violation, which requires that the infraction “must be corrected immediately.” The owners paid the fine, but never actually made the repairs, and the violation was still active Tuesday, records showed.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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