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John Tishman, Builder Behind Pioneering American Skyscrapers, Dies at 90

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One of the most prolific builders of the 20th century, John L. Tishman, passed away last weekend, leaving a legacy written into the skylines of many major American cities that will be hard to match. Over the last few decades, the logo of Tishman Construction, an old-school T formed by a pair of steel I-beams, could be found on construction sites for many of the nation's signature skyscrapers and buildings: the twin towers of the World Trade Center (1973), the John Hancock Center (1970), Epcot Center at Disney World (1982), and the Renaissance Center in Detroit (1977), then the world's most expensive private development, among others.

It's fitting that a firm associated with iconic Manhattan projects such as Madison Square Gardens and the original World Trade Center towers would have a prototypical, New York immigrant origins. Polish-born builder Julius Tishman founded the company in 1898 after purchasing the tenement building he lived in, and by 1928, had branched into both real estate and construction. The company would make a name for itself constructing luxury apartments in the Upper West and Upper East side in the '20s and '30s, surviving the Depression to come back and build some of New York's first post-war towers, including 445 Park Avenue and the Tishman Building at 666 5th Avenue.

John Tishman began working for his grandfather's firm in 1948, after studying engineering at the University of Michigan and serving in the Navy during WWII. The younger Tishman began making his mark in the '60s with a string of high-profile projects, including the 100-story Hancock Center, which used more steel than any projects since the Empire State building, and the Twin Towers.

The family firm was acquired by Rockefeller Center in 1976, bought back by the TIshman's in 1980, then acquired by AECOM in 2010. Tishman Speyer, an active New York development company, was founded in 1978 by Tishman's first cousin, Robert.

John L. Tishman, Builder Who Shaped American Skylines, Dies at 90 [The New York Times]