The commissioner of New York’s Buildings Department, in charge of overseeing a complex set of safety codes and approving major construction plans, will no longer need certification as an architect or engineer, under legislation passed by the City Council on Thursday.
Council Moves to Relax Buildings Chief’s Qualifications, Despite Industry Concerns
The decision is intended to widen the pool of candidates for one of the city’s critical posts, at a time when the Buildings Department is under scrutiny for lax inspections and a number of construction-site deaths. There have been 16 construction-related deaths this year.
The measure relaxing the qualifications, approved unanimously by the Council and expected to be signed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, will discard language in the City Charter that requires the buildings commissioner to have certification. Instead, only one of the top two officials at the department, either the commissioner or the first deputy commissioner, will have to be a registered architect or licensed engineer.
The agency is being run by an acting commissioner, Robert LiMandri, who has an engineering degree but is not licensed. There are currently three deputy commissioners, and at least one of them is a licensed engineer.