Investigation continues into architect’s death from fallen debris in Times Square

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152 West 49th Street. (Google)


Falling debris from a midtown Manhattan building hit and killed an architect blocks from Times Square on Tuesday, authorities said.

Erica Tishman was a few blocks from her office at a project management firm when she was hit around 11 a.m. on West 49th Street near Seventh Avenue.

Tishman’s 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.

On Tuesday, an initial report to the city Buildings Department said a piece of facade had fallen from a 17-story office building, where permits for facade work had been issued in recent months.

Building owner Himmel + Meringoff Properties said it was “saddened by this tragedy” and would fully cooperate with city officials.

Tishman, 60, worked on educational, athletic and other projects, according to a bio on her employer’s website. A message was left with the company, Zubatkin Owner Representation LLC.

She also devoted time to nonprofit groups including the Educational Alliance, where she was the first woman to chair the board of trustees in the community organization’s 130-year history, CEO Alan van Capelle said.

Based on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, it offers programs including Head Start for preschoolers, hot meals for senior citizens, addiction treatment, art classes and more. Tishman knew the details of all of them, van Capelle said, calling her “incredibly smart and indefatigable.”

“She was a trustee that every other organization would be envious of,” he said. Tishman’s 11-year trustee tenure ended in 2018, and she had since been working with the alliance on a building project as recently as Monday, he said.

A graduate of Harvard and Princeton universities, she also was on the board of a synagogue, according to her bio.

Plummeting bricks, facade pieces and other debris have proven to be a deadly danger in New York before.

In 1979, a Barnard College student was killed when a chunk of concrete broke loose from a window ledge and plummeted nine stories. Her death prompted a city law that requires regular facade inspections for many buildings.

There have been other fatalities since, including the 2015 death of a 2-year-old killed by bricks tumbling from a window sill at a senior citizens’ residence in Brooklyn.

“It’s important to remember that many accidental deaths are preventable,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman said after Tishman’s death, which happened in the Democratic politician’s district. “If there was any wrongdoing in this case, those responsible must be held to account to the fullest extent of the law.”


Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.

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