Robert Tishman

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Robert V. Tishman
Born (1916-04-07)April 7, 1916
Died October 11, 2010(2010-10-11) (aged 94)
Nationality United States
Occupation Real estate developer
Known for co-founder of Tishman Speyer
Spouse(s) Phyllis Gordon (m. 1941; d. 1985)
Children Lynne Tishman Speyer
Nancy Tishman Gonchar
Family Paul Tishman (uncle)
John L. Tishman (cousin)
Jerry Speyer (son-in-law)
Alan V. Tishman (brother)

Robert Valentine Tishman (April 7, 1916 – October 11, 2010) was an American real estate developer who had been head of the family-owned firm Tishman Realty and Construction until it was disestablished in 1977, and was one of the two founding partners of Tishman Speyer, which was formed in 1978 and became one of the largest owners and builders of office buildings in the United States.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Tishman was born on April 7, 1916, into a Jewish family[4] in Manhattan. His father David Tishman headed Tishman Realty & Construction, a firm established by Robert's grandfather Julius Tishman in 1898 with the construction of a six-story tenement building on the Lower East Side that was built using the proceeds of his department store in Upstate New York.[3] He attended the Horace Mann School and earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1937, where he was elected to the Sphinx Head honor society and was the editor of the Cornell Widow, and also attended Columbia Law School.[5] He was married in June 1941 to the former Phyllis Gordon, who had attended Wellesley College and the New York University School of Law, in a ceremony held at the Lombardy Hotel and officiated by Rabbi Nathan A. Perilman of Temple Emanu-El.[6] During World War II, Tishman served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Ocean.[3]


After completing his military service, he went back to work with the family business. During the 1960s and 1970s, Tishman was president and chief executive officer of Tishman Realty and Construction, where he oversaw building projects that included Madison Square Garden, the World Trade Center and the Tishman Building at 666 Fifth Avenue. Expanding outside of New York City, the firm's projects included the Century Plaza Towers in Los Angeles commissioned by Alcoa, the John Hancock Center in Chicago and Detroit's Renaissance Center. In a 1968 interview with Business Week magazine, Tishman described the company as "an intercompany conglomerate" that could identify building sites and help in all phases of design, financing and construction, offering "capabilities that no other owner-builder or general contractor matches".[3]

The original firm was liquidated in 1977, and he established Tishman Speyer the following year together with his son-in-law Jerry Speyer, as the firm's founding chairman. The firm went on to develop more than 300 building projects around the world, including the Torre Norte skyscraper in São Paulo, Brazil, as well as the Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue in New York and the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Included in the 166,000,000 square feet (15,400,000 m2) of commercial property owned and managed by the firm are the landmark properties in New York, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center.[3] At the time of his death, Tishman Speyer was working as construction manager of a building at 510 Madison Avenue and was project manager of One World Trade Center, the building formerly known as the Freedom Tower that will become the tallest structure in the city upon its completion.[7] In his obituary in The New York Times, Speyer recounted how Tishman would come to work each day in the firm's offices until two years before his death.[3]

Tishman served as Chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York from 1966 to 1979, having been a member of the organization for 52 years.[1][7] He was Chairman, and then Honorary Chairman, of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Associate Chairman and Charter Trustee of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged, Trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission, a member of the Real Estate Advisory Committee of Cornell University, a member of the Board of Directors of Boys & Girls Harbor, Director of the Citizen's Housing and Planning Council, and was an Honorary Director of the Grand Street Settlement.[1]


Tishman died at the age of 94 on October 11, 2010, at his home in Manhattan. He is survived by his two daughters, Lynne Speyer and Nancy Gonchar, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.[3] His wife Phyllis Gordon had died in July 1985.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Robert V. Tishman - Founding Chairman". Tishman Speyer. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Schuerman, Matthew (December 17, 2006). "The Tishman and Speyer Families". Retrieved 8 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Hevesi, Dennis. "Robert Tishman, Real Estate Developer, Dies at 94", The New York Times, October 12, 2010. Accessed October 13, 2010.
  4. ^ "TISHMAN". JVL. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Staff. "PHYLLIS J. GORDON ENGAGED TO WED; Senior at N.Y.U. School of Law Will Become the Bride of Robert Valentine Tishman", The New York Times, November 25, 1940. Accessed October 13, 2010.
  6. ^ Staff. "AUDREY BUTLER A BRIDE; She Is Wed to Warren Pearl in Church of Heavenly Rest", The New York Times, June 13, 1941. Accessed October 13, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Tennery, Amy. "Tishman Speyer co-founder Robert Tishman dies at 94", The Real Deal (magazine), October 12, 2010. Accessed October 13, 2010.
  8. ^ Staff. "Phyllis Gordon Tishman", The New York Times, July 27, 1985. Accessed October 13, 2010.