NYC ups building façade inspections after deadly Times Square debris fall

After a woman was struck and killed by fallen debris from this building near Times Square in December, the city Buildings Department has agreed to step up inspectors to prevent future tragedies. (Photo via Google Maps)

New York City plans to double its roster of building façade inspectors and take other steps after debris fell from a high-rise and killed an architect in midtown Manhattan this month.

Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said Monday the new measures will hold building owners’ “feet to the fire, so they get repair work done as quickly as possible while still protecting the public.”

A major landlords’ group, the Real Estate Board of New York, said it supported the actions in a statement released by the city.

The plan includes hiring 11 more inspectors to join the 11 already dedicated to examining façades; doing more follow-up inspections to insure pedestrian safety structures are properly installed and maintained at buildings where problems have been found; conducting additional random safety reviews at tall buildings, and other measures.

Architect Erica Tishman was a few blocks from her office when a piece of façade fell from a 17-story office building and hit her a few blocks from Times Square on Dec. 17. She was 60.

In an inspection sweep afterward, the city visited over 1,300 buildings where façades had been flagged as unsafe or needing repairs and found 220 of them didn’t have proper protection for pedestrians, the Buildings Department said.

Hers was the latest in a number of deaths, going back decades, caused by pieces of buildings tumbling to the pavement in the nation’s largest city.

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