Change in office after prompt departure follows construction deaths
The resignation of New York City’s Building’s Commissioner Patricia Lancaster has prompted a call for change which may mean that the Commissioner’s successor need not be an architect or developer. Lancaster resigned following a series of fatal accidents including the collapse of a crane last month which killed seven people and injured 24 others.
After the admission by Lancaster last week that permits had mistakenly been issued for the fated 303 East 51st Street build, New York's Department of Buildings is said to be seeking to remove the requirement that the commissioner be an architect or engineer. Deputy-Commissioner Robert Limandri, who has 16 years experience in construction management, is standing in while a new replacement is found.
Some of the Department’s duties include performing plan, inspecting properties, licensing trades and issuing construction permits. The crane incident is just one of several instances where construction permits have been incorrectly issued.
The Department of Buildings has seen significant controversy since the appointment of Lancaster six years ago. When appointed as the first female Building Commissioner in April 2002 Lancaster was told by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “fix the agency”. However in this year alone there have been 13 construction-related deaths. Despite this, Mayor Bloomberg issued a supportive statement for Lancaster praising the work she had done:
“Patricia led a comprehensive overhaul of the City's byzantine building code, the first in 40 years, which will make the construction of homes, schools, stores and offices in New York City safer, more affordable, and more environmentally friendly for years to come. Patricia leaves a strong foundation of reform and improvement for her successors to build on, and I thank her for her dedication to making New York City a far better place to live, work, and visit."
303 East 51st Street, designed by Garrett Gourlay Architects in New York, was set to soar to 43 storeys and hold luxury apartments but construction has halted following the tragedy.
Niki May Young
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