Erica Tishman

Criminal Charges for Building Owners in 2019 Façade Collapse That Killed Architect

Erica Tishman died in Dec. 2019 when a piece of falling terra cotta work struck her in the head

NBC Universal, Inc.

The corporate owners of a midtown Manhattan building where a prominent architect died from falling decorative work are now facing criminal charges over their alleged failure to maintain the building.

The NYC Department of Buildings said Thursday it filed Administrative Code charges in criminal court against 729 Acquisition LLC, the entity that owns 729 Seventh Avenue.

Erica Tishman, a prominent architect and vice president of a Midtown-based construction firm, was walking near her workplace when her life was cut short on Dec. 17, 2019.

A piece of falling decorative terra cotta façade struck Tishman, 60, in the head and killed her. A Harvard and Princeton graduate and former chair of the nonprofit Educational Alliance, she was well known as a "stickler for building safety."

"It is alleged that even though the defendants had been made aware of the deteriorating façade conditions that posed an immediate danger to the public, they failed to make necessary repairs and failed to install a sidewalk shed in front of the building to protect pedestrians from the unsafe façade conditions," the DOB said in a statement.

The owners had been ordered to install a shed and begin repairs eight months before the accident but had allegedly done neither, the department added.

In a previous statement, a company spokesperson told NBC New York that there were plans to repair the façade and a contract was awarded for the work, adding “A shed was scheduled to be installed when the work began.”

The building's owner also claimed the fix was not done because they were waiting for city approval to perform the work.

The DOB did not indicate what penalties the building owners might face if found guilty on the charges.

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