Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With DeSimone Consulting Engineers President And CEO Stephen DeSimone
This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
If it scrapes the sky on the East Coast, there is a good chance DeSimone Consulting Engineers President and CEO Stephen DeSimone had something to do with it.
DeSimone specializes in computer modeling for complex structures, which has led to his involvement in some of the tallest residential projects on the East Coast, including the 920-foot tower 220 Central Park South in New York City, Miami’s 65-story Four Seasons Hotel and Tower and Boston’s 60-story, 1M SF Millennium Tower. The boating enthusiast is also behind the sail-inspired IAC headquarters in Manhattan.
Engineering is the family business. DeSimone's late father, Vincent, founded DeSimone Consulting Engineers and worked on such projects as the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Sofitel in New York City and the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.
A founding member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York, Stephen DeSimone sat on the Steering Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s Seventh World Congress. As one might expect, he doesn’t get much sleep.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
DeSimone: I always talk about what I do in terms that people can relate to. A building is similar to the human body — structure is the skeleton and I am the orthopedic surgeon. We understand the bones of the building.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
DeSimone: I love engineering, real estate and development, but if I had not chosen this path I would have pursued hospitality and hotel management. I believe that service is everything, and this field would have appealed to me as well.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
DeSimone: Working at a large infrastructure engineering firm, sitting amongst a sea of cubicles. I love the energy that comes from working with developers, architects and contractors to bring a project from concept to conclusion.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
DeSimone: Landing Millennium Partners as a client. They have amazing vision and it has been an honor to work on their projects. We have been fortunate to work with the nation’s leading developers, and it is always exciting.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
DeSimone: I think anyone who leads a business obsesses day and night about opportunities, small and large, that could be pursued. It is never ending and it is what drives a company forward.
Bisnow: If you could change one thing about the commercial real estate industry, what would it be?
DeSimone: The real estate industry until recently has been slow to embrace change. In our position as structural engineers, we are able to identify technology and new materials that facilitate new approaches to design and construction. This opens up new opportunities for our clients.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
DeSimone: People who don’t follow up.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
DeSimone: My father, Vincent DeSimone. He was a brilliant engineer and a leader in the real estate industry.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?
DeSimone: The best — create your own identity. The worst — buy silver.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
DeSimone: [Chef Daniel Boulud's] Daniel [in New York City]. It is fantastic and never disappoints.
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
DeSimone: Less ratings, more results.
Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?
DeSimone: Doubling down on my business during the Great Recession — best decision I ever made.
Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?
DeSimone: The beaches of Fire Island.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
DeSimone: That question presumes I sleep. Work and family, in no particular order.
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
DeSimone: My charitable work. Challenger Athletics is an organization I helped found that provides access to athletic activities for children with special needs.