New York Construction Report staff writer
Several major real estate developments in New York City are under investigation, after an architect who approved the structures admitted he never saw the building plans, the New York Times reported on June 13.
“Oh, my, goodness gracious, that’s a new one,” Steven Zirinsky, building codes committee co-chairman at the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects told the Times.
Warren L. Schiffman, was the architect of record on the project – a hotel on 11th Avenue in Hudson Yards that stands 642 feet tall, and his professional seal and signature are stamped on its design and those of a hotel near La Guardia Airport and dual high-rise residences in Queens. All share the same developer and the Times investigation revealed retired architect did not actually review designs for the buildings and his credentials were allegedly fraudulently used to faked approvals.
The newspaper says it acquired a four-page contract indicating when Schiffman retired in 2016 from Marx Development Group, he signed an eight-point agreement with its chief executive, David Marx, detailing how the company’s design firm, DSM Design Group, could continue to use his seal of approval even though he no longer worked there.
“Yeah, I still get quarterly payments,” Schiffman told the Times in an interview in which he first denied having an agreement.
A professional discipline investigation released May 23 by the state’s Department of Education, the body that oversees professional licensing, confirmed that Schiffman “admitted to the charge of practicing as an architect while not registered or otherwise authorized to practice architecture.” In December 2021, the Department of Buildings barred Schiffman from filing building plans and last month the architect — who is in his mid-80s — gave up his license.
Officials at the city’s Department of Buildings told the newspaper they did not find any structural defects in the plans for the Hudson Yards hotel, which is still under construction. Department records show plans were reviewed five times between 2018 and 2020, when they were ultimately approved. The hotel near La Guardia was completed in 2019, while the high-rise residences in Queens have not been approved yet.