NEW YORK - It’s been less than a month since architect Erica Tishman was struck and killed by a chunk of façade that fell from a high rise in Midtown Manhattan. Now, the Department of Buildings is taking new measures to protect the safety of the public with more inspections and follow-up audits.
“Our goal is to make sure that all owners are reminded what their legal responsivities are already and that we as a department are ensuring that we hold owners who are bad actors accountable,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca.
Inspections have already begun, with the city issuing 220 new violations after inspecting more than 1,300 buildings.
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Building owners are now forced to immediately make repairs, or at least put up protective measures like scaffolding or netting around the building. If they fail to comply with DoB orders, the city will do the work for them and bill the owners accordingly.
Once a violation is issued, inspectors will be back out at the property within 60 days.
“For buildings that are larger buildings where you are required to file reports, we will be auditing 25 percent, so one in four buildings,” La Rocca said.
The Department of Buildings is also doubling the size of its inspection team from 11 to 22 inspectors.
According to La Rocca, Tishman’s death could have been avoided. The owner of the building was issued a violation in April, but instead of fixing the façade she says he was fighting the city.
A spokesperson for the building's owner released this statement to FOX 5 News on January 3, 2020: "In early 2019, as part of a Local Law 11 façade inspection, an engineer we hired performed a physical examination of the terracotta from a drop scaffold and determined that the conditions on the 15th floor did not pose an imminent danger. In September, at a court hearing, the
Department of Buildings moved to downgrade the violation to a Class 2 —not immediately hazardous— and the judge agreed. We are devastated by the death of Erica Tishman and our prayers are with her family."