Erica Tishman: A Tribute to the Manhattan Architect

erica tishman

Company headshot Erica Tishman

Erica Tishman, the prominent architect who was killed by a piece of debris that fell off a building facade in Manhattan, was deeply involved in her community and synagogue.

The New York Post and other New York news outlets identified Tishman as the victim in the tragic incident, which occurred on December 17, 2019. She was only 60 years old.

Police say that she was walking down the street when she was felled by the chunk of debris, and questions are already being raised about the building’s maintenance history. Meanwhile, tributes quickly flowed in for Tishman, who had degrees from the Ivy League and was the granddaughter of the late president of Brooklyn Law School.

“News of a ‘freak accident’ such as this is always disturbing and sad,” Alicia Koledin wrote on Twitter in one tribute. “But having worked with #EricaTishman for months, I am stunned and nearly frozen with shock right now. It ‘could have happened to anyone’ happened to her. A great and tragic loss for the #NYC #AEC community.”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Erica Tishman Was Described as an ‘Accomplished Professional’ With Over 30 Years of Experience in Architectural Design

erica tishman

Erica Tishman

Erica was the vice president of Zubatkin Owner Representation LLC, which is located at 333 West 52nd Street in New York City, according to the firm’s website.

“Erica is an accomplished professional with over thirty years of experience in architectural design, construction, and project management,” her company bio reads.

“Her diverse portfolio includes educational, athletic, and private development projects. An effective communicator and problem solver, she has the ability to work collaboratively with an organization’s leadership to structure building projects for success. As an architect in private practice for over twenty years before joining Zubatkin, Erica developed an understanding of the project development process from programming and strategic planning through design, approvals, construction and occupancy.”

Her LinkedIn page also lists her as a partner with DeWitt Tishman Architects, LLP.

According to The New York Post, police say that Tishman was struck by a “falling chunk” of building facade as she walked on 49th Street around 10:45 a.m. She died at the scene after being struck in the head by the debris.

The New York Daily News reported that the piece of debris fell from a “brick tower.” According to Daily News, the building at 729 Seventh Ave. “has several outstanding building violations.” Daily News further reported that one past violation was for “damaged terra cotta at areas above 15th floor in several locations which poses a falling hazard for pedestrians.” Daily News obtained a statement from a company spokesman, who said: “We are saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family. The company will fully cooperate with the city in the ongoing matter.”

The New York Times also reported that the “falling debris” came from 729 Seventh Avenue, described as “a 17-story office building with retail shops on the first floor.” According to The Times, in April, city building inspectors issued a violation to building owner Himmel + Meringoff Properties, because of an alleged “failure to maintain exterior building facade.”

2. Tishman, the Former Erica Dale Lindenbaum, Married Steven Howard Tishman in 1982

erica tishman

FaceErica Tishman

Erica Tishman’s 1982 wedding announcement in the New York Times said that she was Erica Dale Lindenbaum, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Lindenbaum of New York and East Hampton, L.I. She married Steven Howard Tishman, son of Mr. and Mrs. William J. Tishman of Hollywood, Fla.

“Rabbi Benjamin Z. Kreitman performed the ceremony at the Plaza Hotel,” the announcement says. At that time, it described Erica as studying at Harvard. “Her father is a senior partner in the New York law firm of Rosenman Colin Freund Lewis & Cohen. Her mother is an associate of Dexter Design Inc. Her grandfather, the late Abraham M. Lindenbaum, was president of the Brooklyn Law School,” the announcement said.

Her husband was described as “financial analyst with the Zayre Corporation, a self-service department-store chain with headquarters in Framingham, Mass.”

3. Tishman Was a Board Member for a Local School & Manhattan Synagogue

A biography for Tishman on the website of Central Synagogue says that Erica and her husband Steven Tishman “have been members of Central Synagogue since 1992. They have three children, Adam, Stuart, and Julia.”

According to her company bio, Tishman was actively involved in the community in a variety of ways.

“Through many years of Board service, Erica brings a unique perspective to the process of steering capital projects and real estate development plans,” the biography explains.

“She currently chairs the Board of Directors for The Educational Alliance and served on the Board of Trustees at Riverdale Country School, where she coordinated a program for facilities stewardship, two master plans, and oversaw two major construction campaigns. Erica is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Central Synagogue in Manhattan.”

Her bio on the Synagogue’s website says that Erica Tishman was “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. She served as a board of trustees member, and chair of facilities for Riverdale Country School for twelve years and currently oversees their Capital Projects. In addition, she is a chair for the Alumni Schools Committee for Princeton University.”

Way back in 2011, Educational Alliance wrote on Twitter: “Our honoree Erica Tishman speaks to the crowd. She first came to us when her kids volunteered w/ us!”

On Facebook, Tishman mostly posted about her children’s engagements, at least in the posts that are visible.

4. Tishman Had Degrees From Harvard & Princeton Universities

Tishman was a very accomplished person. She had a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design, according to her biography.

She also had a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University. She was a registered architect in New Jersey and New York and an accredited professional who had a certificate in lighting design.

She was affiliated with the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter.

5. Tributes Flowed on Social Media for Tishman, Describing Her ‘Generous Heart’

Many people knew Erica Tishman, so tributes flowed on social media after her name was reported. Alan van Capelle wrote: “I am shocked that my friend and former Educational Alliance Trustee was killed today in midtown. She had an enormous and generous heart.”

“My classmate, Princeton ’81. Tragic and very sad,” wrote a former colleague.

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.”

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