Our very next building, again in Manhattan, was to be our expanded headquarters, 666 Fifth Avenue, and we decided that it, too, would have an aluminum fa£ade. Alcoa’s competitor, Reynolds Aluminum, of Reynolds Wrap fame, wanted in on the new field of building facades. Their top executives had wined and dined Uncle Norman and convinced him that we should have a version of the famous Reynolds Wrap on our headquarters. I wasn’t so sure, since they had not done any research and did not have the experience that Alcoa did, but Uncle Norman made the decision, and at that time I did not feel that I could gainsay it. Although we had some severe problems all through the design and execution process, we and Reynolds eventually persevered. The building opened for business in January 1957, and to celebrate the creation of our greatly expanded headquarters, our stock was officially moved from the American Exchange to the larger New York Stock Exchange, an acknowledgement that Tishman Realty had become, as owner/builders, one of the country’s leaders in high-rise construction.
After this episode with the fa£ade of 666 Fifth, however, Reynolds decided not to pursue a product line of building wraps but continued their supremacy in food wraps.
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Our wholly owned subsidiary Tishman Research Corporation became the vehicle for Tishman Realty’s continuing innovations in architectural products and building systems. Having a subsidiary devoted to research and innovation was not something that other developers were willing to copy. One of those competitors later commented to a construction industry publication, “Let Tishman … be the guinea pigs
The Tishman Building, 666 Fifth Avenue, with its distinctive aluminum fagade and pay the cost of research and development. We’ll hang back until the price comes down.” And—they did not add, but I understood— until the product proved itself.
Joe Newman had come on board to head our research efforts, which I treasured and helped introduce to the architectural community and their clients. Interest in innovations within the industry picked up after 1962, when the initial postwar boom slowed and developers and manufacturers looked for ways to save money and/or provide better products and services for their clients. In 1976, President Gerald Ford appointed Newman as chief of the new federal agency, the National Institute of Building Sciences.
Among the most interesting projects of Tishman Research came during that period, an evaluation of a thousand tall office buildings, mostly federal buildings, throughout the country, done for the Public Buildings Service, a division of the General Services Administration. This time and costs analysis revealed—not surprising to us—that buildings put up using a Construction Management approach cost less and were much quicker to erect than those that had used the old methodology of completing a set of plans and putting them out to bid by a set of general contractors. (More about this in a later decorating about Construction Management.)