Awards for Excellence finalist Bob Sanna, Executive Vice President and Head of Construction of Forest City New York is nominated in the Housing and Office categories for their work on 461 Dean Street and the Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech. Mr. Sana shares his best career advice, influences, and what makes him proud of both projects for our ‘Five Minutes With’ series.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
“As a builder in the most diverse, urban environment in the country, I could never say it’s been one person. Instead, the greatest influence has been the privilege of working across New York’s five boroughs. I’ve been exposed to a wide-swath of projects, including everything from infrastructure projects, modular buildings, super-tall residential towers to sporting arenas. Carrying every experience to each new project helps infuse fresh, creative thinking to produce the best possible product.”
What qualities do you think are essential to be an effective leader?
“I think the most important quality of a leader is being a good listener. Most of the time our first instincts are to rush through situations for the path of least resistance, but this isn’t what grows people creatively. Particularly when merging construction and development, it’s far more effective to sit down with a team to articulate goals and provide guidance on how best to achieve them. In construction, the goal is to simply build, but in development there are a myriad of factors that can influence a deadline, whether that’s financing, technical problems, or third-party vendors. To be able to communicate a vision is crucial in getting the best of your team and empowering them to do their best work possible.”
As a ULI NY Awards nominee, what makes you most proud of your project?
“It took vision to design 461 Dean Street, which was built on top of a sporting arena and Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech, which has a multi-level Tech Gallery and a rooftop terrace sheltered by a solar trellis. These projects are true symbols of where the real estate industry can go to be more efficient and cost-effective, particularly as our dense, urban cities continue to experience a housing crisis.”