About John L. Tishman

NorthLight Foundation pays tribute to the legacy of John Tishman by making grants through the John L. Tishman Fund. John was a master builder and the creator of the method of Construction Management, building some of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Hancock Center in Chicago and the original twin towers of the World Trade Center. John was also a dedicated philanthropist who invested his time and resources in education, the environment, and the improvement of the human condition.

John was born in 1926 in New York City to Louis and Rose Tishman. From an early age, he appreciated education and believed that it should instill critical thought and progressive values – two things he embraced throughout his life. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1946 at the age of 20. After serving in the Navy, he became a math teacher and assisted in the creation of a progressive, co-ed, interracial boarding school. In 1948, he joined the family construction company, founded by his grandfather, Julius. He married Suzanne Weisberg in 1953 and had two children, Daniel and Katherine.


John was a pioneer builder and made observations that led him to create the field of Construction Management as a more efficient form of project delivery and execution. He managed some of the most complex projects in the nation, such as Walt Disney’s EPCOT Center in Florida, the restoration of Carnegie Hall, and the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City.

John was an innovator and embraced technology both for its ability to improve his field and for its potential to create a better future. He created the Tishman Research Corporation, which led the development of innovative construction methods and the utilization of new products to adapt to a more energy-conscious and efficiency-driven age. John also founded the Tishman Construction Management Program at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, and was an early advocate for green building standards that are now industry standards.

Just as he excelled in managing the complex relationships between many actors in construction management, John succeeded in creating productive synergies in his philanthropic work. One of his most meaningful philanthropic endeavors was his 34-year tenure on the Board of Trustees of the New School, where he lent both his construction expertise and his ability to see the big picture. He worked to build connections between academic departments and played a key role in the founding of the interdisciplinary Tishman Environment and Design Center, which integrates bold design, policy, and social justice approaches to environmental issues to advance just and sustainable outcomes in collaboration with communities. John served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts for more than ten years and received an honorary degree from the New School in 2002.

John made education and the environment his primary objects of philanthropy, and it is in recognition of this tradition that the John L. Tishman Fund of NorthLight Foundation supports efforts that connect education and the environment.

About the Fund

John L. Tishman’s Legacy Trust directed that his estate support education and scholarship. The Foundation’s John L. Tishman Fund issues grants in this area in his name and honor. In addition to providing legacy grants to organizations and institutions important to John L. Tishman, NorthLight Foundation funds education and scholarship that further our strategic priorities of environmental protection and movement building.

Some examples of investments from the John L. Tishman Fund are featured below.



To provide scholarships to two graduating seniors pursuing careers in the environment

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Einstein-Montefiore Brain Science Initiative

To support educational programming, scholarship support, and research initiatives in brain science


University of Michigan

To support College of Engineering faculty and graduate and undergraduate students in the areas of sustainability and construction management