Page N3.2 . 10 November 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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    Towering Taskmaster Touted


    Innovations at Work

    In 1979, DeBenedittis joined Tishman Speyer Properties (TSP) as one of the founding partners and senior managing director for design and construction. He oversaw the construction of the 70-story Frankfurt Messeturm office building (1988), designed by Murphy/Jahn as the then-tallest building in Europe.

    After studying the building's technical aspects, TSP realized that significant cost savings and efficiency improvements could be realized by a redesign of the building's core, structure, safety, mechanical, electrical, and elevator systems. Under DeBenedittis's leadership, a fast-track construction schedule was developed, enabling early occupancy and completion in a record time of 27 months.

    He also directed construction of the Sony Center at Potsdamerplatz in Berlin, also by Murphy/Jahn, a technically complicated project involving a foundation 40 feet (12 meters) below water level and a one-acre (0.4-hectare) cable-supported roof of glass and Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric.

    TSP contributed to the design by repositioning various functions within the center, thus increasing the rentable floor area by over 12 percent. By refining construction methods, the firm cut the project cost by almost 20 percent.

    In addition to working on these notable buildings, DeBenedittis was a prime mover, In the 1960s, behind the practice of construction management as a discrete professional service. He began the application of critical path scheduling, which streamlines complicated construction processes, and he was involved in the development of the disciplines of "value engineering" and fast-track design/construction.

    He also stimulated the introduction of new materials into the building industry through his collaboration with major manufacturers and suppliers. He was an early adopter of many technological advances including energy-efficient exterior wall assemblies and composite structural systems of steel and reinforced concrete that resulted in more off-site assembly and fabrication, lower life-cycle costs, and higher quality.

    When DeBenedittis began work on the Messerturm in Germany during the late 1980s, he introduced Europeans to American management techniques and products. That project, for example, used drywall for the first time in a continental European highrise. He is also credited with the start in Europe of guaranteed maximum price contracting.

    DeBenedittis is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is a member of the steering committee of the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

    The jury for the Henry C. Turner Prize includes Chris T. Hendrickson, Carnegie Mellon University, J. Robert Hillier, FAIA, The Hillier Group, Clyde B. Tatum, Stanford University, Thomas R. Turner, Turner Construction Company, and Norbert W. Young, Jr., FAIA, McGraw-Hill Construction.

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    ArchWeek Image

    Frankfurt Messeturm (1988), designed by Murphy/Jahn, was one of many highrise projects built under the direction of award-winning Charles A. DeBenedittis.
    Photo: Courtesy Tishman-Speyer Properties

    ArchWeek Image

    John Hancock Tower.
    Photo: David Owen

    ArchWeek Image

    The former World Trade Center in New York.
    Great Buildings Photo Howard Davis

    ArchWeek Image

    The Sony Center at Potsdamerplatz in Berlin.
    Photo: Courtesy Tishman-Speyer Properties

    ArchWeek Image

    TSP has directed the redevelopment and repositioning of Rockefeller Center in New York since 1996.
    Photo: Courtesy Tishman-Speyer Properties


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