The Public Art Handlers: When It Comes to Building Ambitious Artworks, Tishman Construction Gets the Call


“When you want to do something crazy, you go to your friends,” said Susan Freedman, the long-time director of the Public Art Fund. “You go to someone who won’t think you’re so crazy.”

Ms. Freedman was sitting on one of the granite benches that encircles the plaza of Columbus Circle on a recent morning. Fall was in the air, the chill of the granite seeping through our pant legs. Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus, Ms. Freedman’s latest commission, had just opened, and the customary lines snaked by behind her.

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Some 70-feet up in the air, Gaetano Russo’s sculpture of Christopher Columbus was comfortably at home inside a living room built by Mr. Nishi. Or, rather, conceived of by him. Like he has done in cities around the world, the Japanese artist had created an unusual environment for a popular statue to reside in and invited the public to come for a visit. But he did not build, did not construct, the structure in Columbus Circle, his biggest yet. That job fell to one of Ms. Freedman’s friends, Dan Tishman.
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