042208crane.jpgPhotograph of damaged building from the 303 East 51st Street construction site's crane by John Zwinck on Flickr

During a press conference yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg said, "I don’t think anybody should be fully satisfied with the Department of Buildings’ performance. Whether somebody could have done a better job — I’m trying to — whether they could have done a better job I just don’t know."

The Mayor's criticism lies squarely with his hire, architect turned Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster. Last week, Lancaster admitted that the Turtle Bay construction site where six construction workers and one civilian died when a crane collapsed into neighboring buildings should never have been approved because of issues with the plans (the building could have been approved in a different design, though).

Bloomberg also finally admitted that the construction boom should not be an excuse for more fatalities (there have been a "dozen fatal construction accidents in the first half of the year, compared to the same number last year"). Lancaster defended her record to the Times, pointing out she's been building a "foundation" in order to reform a department that was full of corruption when she arrived in 2002.

2008_04_lancaster.jpgAnd Bloomberg has acknowledged Lancaster's accomplishments, like raising the number of buildings inspectors from 277 to 400. But he said, "Simply shrugging your shoulders and saying `Well, after all, construction work is a dangerous occupation,' is behavior that will not be tolerated from anyone."

UPDATE: Lancaster turned in her resignation this morning to Mayor Bloomberg, who accepted it. Bloomberg made a point of saying how she "moved the Department of Buildings a long way forward by fighting corruption, strengthening inspections and oversight, increasing the public's access to information, and bringing increased levels of professionalism and integrity to all levels of her agency" and overhauled the building code.

Lancaster said, "I am proud of the groundbreaking work the department has done during my tenure to root out corruption, increase transparency, overhaul the building code, and increase safety for workers and the public alike." Their full statements are after the jump.

Statement by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

"This morning, I met with Patricia Lancaster at Gracie Mansion and accepted her resignation as New York City's Buildings Commissioner. Over the past six years, Patricia has moved the Department of Buildings a long way forward by fighting corruption, strengthening inspections and oversight, increasing the public's access to information, and bringing increased levels of professionalism and integrity to all levels of her agency. Patricia led a comprehensive overhaul of the City's byzantine building code, the first in 40 years, which will make the construction of homes, schools, stores and offices in New York City safer, more affordable, and more environmentally friendly for years to come. Patricia leaves a strong foundation of reform and improvement for her successors to build on, and I thank her for her dedication to making New York City a far better place to live, work, and visit."

Statement by Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster:

"Today I submitted my resignation, which Mayor Bloomberg accepted. It has been an honor serving in his Administration and I thank the Mayor for this opportunity. After six years in public service, I made this decision because I felt it was time to return to the private sector. I am proud of the groundbreaking work the department has done during my tenure to root out corruption, increase transparency, overhaul the building code, and increase safety for workers and the public alike. My message today to the talented and capable staff at the Department of Buildings is to keep up the hard work: you've made so much important progress. It has been my distinct pleasure working with you."