John Tishman supervised the construction of three of the world’s earliest 100-story-plus skyscrapers: the John Hancock Center in Chicago in the 1960s and the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in the 1970s.
John Tishman, a master builder of the 20th century whose Tishman Realty and Construction transformed the skylines of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit, died Saturday at home in Bedford, N.Y. He was 90.
The cause was respiratory failure, said John Gallagher, a family spokesman.
Heir to a company founded by his grandfather Julius in 1898, Mr. Tishman supervised the construction of three of the world’s earliest 100-story-plus skyscrapers: the John Hancock Center in Chicago in the 1960s and the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in the 1970s.
Some of the projects
• John Hancock Center in Chicago
• World Trade Center in New York
• Madison Square Garden in New York
• Century City in Los Angeles
• Renaissance Center in Detroit
• Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The bold Tishman logo — a red “T” formed by a crossed steel beam and column — could be seen at major projects around the country, including Madison Square Garden in New York, for which the original Pennsylvania Station was razed; Century City in Los Angeles, on what had been the 20th-Century Fox back lot; the Renaissance Center in Detroit, which was intended to spur reinvestment in that beleaguered city; and the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
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Two major New York performance spaces, Carnegie Hall and the New Amsterdam Theater, were renovated by Mr. Tishman’s company.
The Carnegie project, in 1986, was marred by complaints that the hall’s fabled acoustical properties had been compromised in the renovation. In 1995, it was reported that a layer of concrete, 1 to 4 inches thick, had been discovered under the stage floor.
Mr. Tishman maintained that the concrete had been present before the renovation began. The floor was replaced.
John Louis Tishman was born in New York City on Jan. 24, 1926, to Louis and Rose Tishman. His father, who was also in the family building business, died when Mr. Tishman was 4.
Rather than jump immediately into the business, Mr. Tishman studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1946. He served in the Navy and taught math before joining the Tishman company in 1948.
Five years later, he married Suzanne Weisberg. She died in 2005. He is survived by their two children, Daniel Tishman and Katherine Blacklock, and three grandsons.
The second generation of the business was led by David Tishman, Mr. Tishman’s uncle.
Mr. Tishman stepped into the public spotlight in 1960 when, as the company’s vice president in charge of construction, he described to The New York Times — presciently, as it turned out — how reinforced concrete was replacing steel-frame construction for residential high-rise projects.
It was Mr. Tishman who announced in 1965 that U.S. Steel would furnish more than 42,000 tons of steel for the John Hancock Center in Chicago. He said it was the largest steel contract for a commercial structure since the Empire State Building.
The original Tishman Realty and Construction — which was both a builder and a developer — was liquidated in 1976. The construction unit was sold to the Rockefeller Center Corp., from which Mr. Tishman repurchased it in 1980.
Daniel Tishman succeeded his father as head of Tishman Realty and Construction. The construction unit was sold to AECOM, an international conglomerate, in 2010.
Daniel is now vice chairman of Tishman, a development, ownership and management company. He is also a member of the AECOM board.
John Tishman was chairman emeritus of Tishman Realty and Construction. He also served as chairman of the New School in New York, where the John L. Tishman Auditorium, and the Tishman Environment and Design Center bear his name.