Erica Tishman, a Manhattan architect was struck by falling debris and died at the scene from her injuries. The building is located on 729 7th Ave and is owned by commercial real-estate firm Himmel + Meringoff Properties. The company had been granted permits for the danger zone but had never followed up with safeguarding the area.
Mrs. Tishman, was a prominent New York City architect and philanthropist who served on the Board of Directors for the Educational Alliance.
Spectators were quick to report that the falling debris which impacted Mrs.Tishman may not have been debris after all, but something much bigger. Photos from the scene depicts what may be large broken pieces of molding that chipped off the cornice of the building.
The Department of Buildings conducted an inspection that led to the finding of cracks in the building’s frontage as well as missing terracotta pieces. They have ranked it as a class 1 violation, which requires immediate fixation.
Local Law 11 of 1998 (which succeeded Local Law 10 of 1980) requires that all buildings greater than six stories in height have their façades inspected every five years to determine whether any repair or renovation work needs to be performed. Inspectors are required to submit their reports to the Department of Buildings. Any building that requires façade repair is required to construct a sidewalk shed along their façade to protect pedestrians below. It is unclear whether the building involved in this accident complied with Local Law 11 in recent years.
Following the accident, construction workers began building a sidewalk shed to protect passing pedestrians. However, it appears this project should have been completed months ago.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio expressed condolences shortly after the accident. “My heart goes out to the family. We need to know how that happened. We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” he said.
This type of tragedy should never happen in New York City. A building owner has a duty to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition. The Department of Buildings have a series of regulations to ensure that buildings in New York City are safe for visitors and passersby. Where, as here, it appears that the building owner has failed to do the bare minimum of providing a sidewalk bridge to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk below, they must be held responsible for this terrible tragedy.