Last year, the city passed a law that removed the requirement that the buildings commissioner be either a licensed engineer or architect so Robert LiMandri could be appointed to the post. This proved to be an ill-advised move in January of this year when The New York State Society of Professional Engineers filed a lawsuit to remove Robert LiMandri as New York City's commissioner of buildings and void the law that allowed him to be named to the post. The city and the mayor were also named in the suit, which alleges the local law conflicts with New York State Education Law, which defines the practice of professional engineering. It says that the building commissioner can carry out duties which state law says should only be carried out by a licensed engineer.
The new local law does require that Mr. LiMandri have a deputy that is either a licensed engineer or architect.
In a city with nearly 1 million buildings, and about as many vocal and financially motivated constituencies, the job is widely regarded as a difficult and thankless task. The buildings commissioner requires a balance of professional credibility, political smarts, and media savvy. Removing the architectural or engineering license credential requirement dilutes the importance of the skills and training required, and will not benefit the public or necessarily result in greater construction safety--or more ethical building inspectors.
Registered architects (RAs) and professional engineers (PEs), whose professional responsibilities, by law, are first and foremost to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, are best suited to lead public agencies that oversee building design and construction. ...