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Real Estate Legend John Tishman Dies At 90


John Tishman, chairman emeritus of Tishman Realty & Construction Co and the man behind landmark projects in the nation's biggest cities, died Saturday. He was 90.


John was personally in charge of the three of the world's first buildings stretching 100 stories or more, including the 110-story World Trade Center twin towers in New York and the 100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago (below). He also oversaw the Century City complex in Los Angeles, Renaissance Center in Detroit, Walt Disney's Epcot Center in Florida, and the renovation and restoration of Carnegie Hall and the New Amsterdam Theater in NYC.

John Hancock Center in Chicago
credit: Sergio Perez

Calling John a larger-than-life builder who leaves a larger-than-life legacy, Tishman chairman John Vickers says he left an indelible mark on the skyline of New York and other major cities. His legacy can be found all over the US in projects recognizable to hundreds of millions of people, he says.

At the same time, John Tishman's work as a philanthropist set him apart as did his involvement in educational and political endeavors. John died of respiratory failure in his home in Bedford, NY.

John was a prolific builder, says Joe Faulkner, Cresa LA SVP and past president of the AIR Commercial Real Estate Association in LA. "His impact was felt all over the place," Joe tells us.


John was a key leader in the company his grandfather, Julius, started in New York in 1898. John joined the family company in 1948.

The company passed through different ownership, including going public. John and relatives bought the company back, splitting it into three. John kept the construction operations and John's cousin Robert Tishman formed Tishman Speyer with Jerry Speyer in 1978. John would later expand Tishman beyond construction management into developing and owning major hotel projects, creating what is today Tishman Realty Partners.


With a degree in electrical engineering, John often invested in technology. He created the Tishman Research Corp to develop innovative construction methods and energy-saving technology.

That legacy continues. His son, Dan, became chairman last year of Ecorithm, a software company that helps landlords improve energy efficiency in their buildings.

Dan sold Tishman Construction to AECOM Technology Corp in 2010, remaining as CEO and chairman and becoming vice chairman of AECOM. He is vice chairman for Tishman Realty and Tishman Hotel. (That's John with his family in Central Park, above left, and with Dan, right.)

Carnegie Hall in New York
credit: Wholtone (image is public domain)

In 2009, John won the Jack and Lewis Rudin Award for Industry Service to NYC. 

The award from the New York Building Congress recognized John's contributions to the industry as well as his charitable work with Carnegie Hall (above) and The New School (where he had served as chairman and advised on many of the school's development projects). He helped start the Tishman Environment and Design Center at the university.

(We snapped him, below left, at the event along with Columbia University president Lee Bollinger and NYBC chair Stuart Graham.)


John was named a living landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 1997. He shall be counted among the pioneers lost to the industry.

John is survived by Dan; his daughter Katherine Blacklock; his daugher-in-law Sheryl Crockett Tishman; and three grandsons. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The New School.