Tishman Realty & Construction had a history of putting up somewhat innovative buildings, going back to the 1920s, and 99 Park was going to be a showcase. It was going to be one of the first buildings in which there were only to be self-service elevators, and that presented some design challenges. We immediately realized that the elevator cabs, since there would be no operator present, would be vulnerable to vandalism and graffiti. I helped to come up with an answer to that problem. Another design challenge was the fa£ade. I had been working with Alcoa, and we had come up with a way to use their aluminum for the fa£ade instead of bricks or stone and mortar. To put on bricks and mortar was a process that often took weeks. Alcoa’s aluminum fa£ade for 99 Park, a building of twenty-seven stories, with the aluminum wrapping around three sides, was going to be installed in just five days. (I’ll detail these innovations, and others, in the next decorating.)
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Saving money on construction while being innovative enough to provide the company with a good public relations opportunity was reason enough for my uncles to celebrate me, but although they were appreciative of me and enjoyed the corporate kudos they received for our construction work, I was still considered the family outsider.
How much of an outsider was brought home to me when one of my construction department draftsmen showed me a chart commissioned by David Tishman that I wasn’t supposed to see. He had been asked by Uncle David to draw it up and not to tell anyone. “I shouldn’t show this to you,” the man said, but added that since he reported directly to me, he felt I should see it.
It was a succession chart of Tishman family members, showing how the company was expected to evolve over time. Henceforth, with David still as chairman, there would be three distinct divisions: development, leasing, and construction. Norman was to head up the company and particularly real estate development, and my cousin, Bob, would eventually succeed him in those slots. Cousin Alan would head the management and leasing division, aided by various other cousins. All of my cousins were on the chart. I was not. The draftsman asked me whether I was planning to retire or whether I thought they had just forgotten me.
This chart shocked me. In David’s vision of the company’s future, I had no role. However, I didn’t immediately charge into his office and confront him about it although I was quite upset. Perhaps I didn’t confront him with it because I didn’t want to have the needed argument when I was that upset. Some time later, though, I found the opportunity to confront him about the chart.
“That chart doesn’t mean anything,” he said, arguing that it had been just an exercise for the purpose of gaming things out. “Oh, it’s just like you, worrying,” he continued. “You’ll have a place. You may even be in charge of construction … someday.”
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