John L. Tishman, a longtime trustee of The New School and real estate magnate who helped transform the face of the university’s campus and the New York City and Chicago skylines, passed away Saturday, February 6, 2016 at the age of 90.
At the helm of Tishman Realty & Construction, Tishman left his mark through the construction or renovation of a number of iconic American landmarks, including the World Trade Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City, The John Hancock Center in Chicago, and Walt Disney Company’s EPCOT Center in Orlando. Since its inception, the company has built structures occupying more than 300 million square feet of space, encompassing all building types and expanding beyond its New York origins to develop projects across the country. Since stepping down as chairman of the company in 1996, Tishman continued to serve as a director on the boards of both Tishman Construction Corporation and Tishman Hotel & Realty LP. His son, Dan Tishman, vice chairman at AECOM Technology Corporation and chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction Corporation, assumed leadership of the company from his father in the 2000s.
Beyond his accomplishments in business, Tishman, a dedicated philanthropist, worked on behalf of education and the environment. Serving on the board of trustees of The New School from 1981 until his death and also as chairman of the board from 1995 until 2001, Tishman was involved in the creation of several key projects at the university.
In 2006, Tishman, who long insisted that design is the key to creating livable, resilient, and affordable cities, helped establish the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School, a major education and research initiative in the field of environmental studies. Tishman’s son, Daniel, bolstered his father’s commitment by creating the John L. Tishman Scholarships for Sustainable Development, Design, and Construction.
“My father’s affection for The New School has been one of the constants of his career,” said Daniel Tishman, who dedicated the scholarship to his father on the elder Tishman’s 85th birthday. “His role as a builder who understands the importance of sustainability inspired the creation of an award that will encourage generations of student creativity.”
Tishman also played an instrumental role in the creation of the new University Center at The New School, a 16-story, 375,000-square-foot campus center on Fifth Avenue and 14th Street. Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the University Center houses academic spaces, a dormitory, a library, performance spaces, and a café. Tishman had previously endowed the landmark auditorium in the Joseph Urban building, which was renamed the John L. Tishman Auditorium.
In addition, Tishman served as a trustee of the Museum for African Art and the Skyscraper Museum. He was formerly a trustee at Carnegie Hall, the Central Park Conservancy, the New York University Medical Center, the New York University Real Estate Institute, Pratt Institute, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. He also served as president of The John and Daniel Tishman Family Fund. In 1997, the New York Landmarks Conservancy named Tishman a “Living Landmark.”
Tishman was born in 1926 to Louis and Rose Tishman. His paternal grandfather, Julius Tishman, emigrated from Poland in 1885 and founded his namesake company in 1898, building a tenement on the Lower East Side, followed soon after by multiple luxury buildings throughout Manhattan. John Tishman joined the firm in 1947 and became chairman in 1976. Before joining the company, he served as an officer of the U.S. Navy and as a teacher of mathematics and physics at The Walden School in New York. He also received a bachelor of science in engineering from the University of Michigan in 1946.
The New School extends its condolences to the Tishman family, including his son, Daniel, and his daughter-in-law, Sheryl Crockett Tishman; his daughter, Katherine Blacklock; and his three grandchildren.