February 25, 2021

Square Feet | The 30-Minute Interview: John T. Livingston

Q It’s been a year since the acquisition. What changes have been made so far?

A I like to say that in one day we went global. Tishman was a New York-centric construction services firm, and through the merger with Aecom, we became global, with access to people in 125 countries, 400 offices and all kinds of business lines.

So it’s a much bigger platform now, and the changes are corporate and administrative. At the day-to-day level it’s the same company and we do the same thing: we build for clients all over the U.S. No one has left or resigned, and there were no layoffs.

Q The Tishman name won’t disappear, right?

A Yes, it will stay. Dan Tishman is incredibly well known in the business, and he’s our icon.

Q What is Dan’s role now?

A Dan is on the board and the vice chairman of the parent company. He also remains the chairman and C.E.O. of Tishman Construction. His role is a more strategic role, and more with new clients and corporate relationships.

Mine’s more day-to-day of the business affairs of the company.

Q You started at Tishman in 1994.

A I have a real estate development background, and when I came here, we set up Tishman Urban Development Corporation. I was the first — and I think only — president and C.O.O. of that company. It was an internal company that provided development management services to Tishman on the real estate side. About nine years ago Dan asked me to move over to the construction company; I came on as the president.

Q How is business?

A We’re beginning to feel that things are getting better. And some of the evidence of that is that some very significant projects in the last few months have restarted. One is called Revel, a large casino in Atlantic City. The other is the International Gem Tower in the Diamond District. They started a number of years ago; each stopped for about 18 months and started up again in the last six months.

Q How many projects is Tishman working on now?

A We’re doing about 125 projects — that’s Tishman — and primarily in this country.

Q What’s the breakdown between public and private projects?

A It’s pretty straightforward: you follow the money. If the money is in private-sector work, that’s where you are; and if the debt is harder to get, you follow the public-sector money. Today it’s 40 to 50 percent public, and around 50 percent private, where historically it had been 20 percent public.

Q You’re working on public and private projects at ground zero.

A We’re doing most of the work at ground zero. We built the original World Trade Center, which was John Tishman’s legacy, Dan’s father, and we built the original 7 World Trade Center that collapsed after the Trade Center collapsed. One World Trade Center is past the 74th floor the last time I checked; No. 4 is past the 33rd; No. 3 we’re building it up to grade, and about 80 percent of the steel has been sent over to the PATH Hall — the Calatrava-designed birdlike structure.

Q Has One World Trade Center been difficult for you?

A It’s a very complex building because: A) the sheer size of it; B) where it sits, which is basically on a postage-stamp location and it goes straight up; and C) there’s so much happening around and under it, including the PATH, the subway and the retail. You don’t see all this, but all this gets brought to grade, so it’s a very complicated piece of work. That’s why it’s taken the time it’s taken to figure all these things out. You’re putting so many pieces together — all under the view of the public that says, “Why can’t you finish it tomorrow?”

Q Tishman has also done work for Hudson Yards in Midtown.

A We did a little bit of work for Related on Hudson Yards, and we hope that will continue. We did a lot of preconstruction for almost five years. We’re helping them figure out what will get built.

Q Do you have a favorite project?

A I like the Plaza Hotel, because I was married there. When we first went in and started the renovation there, I tried to find the room that we stayed in and the ballroom that’s no longer there that we got married in.

Everybody knew how pretty it was from the outside, but they didn’t know how tired it was on the inside.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7e5568e7867020e85d0b86af662baa5a

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