For Jean Savitsky ’85,
Achievement is an Art

Your passion. Our passion. #StevensPride

Photo Credit: Gabrielle Langdon, Architectural Digest ©️ Condé Nast

Stevens is more than an alma mater for Jean Savitsky ’85. Her father, Daniel Savitsky ’52 is a well-known professor emeritus with the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering and a longtime presence in the Davidson Laboratory. Her brother, James, is a Stevens graduate as well. “Stevens means a lot to me and my family,” Jean tells us.

Savitsky looks to her education as an important contributor to her success. “Stevens teaches you a different way of thinking and solving problems. The rigor of the curriculum makes you ready for anything.”  

Anything indeed. As a managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle’s Project and Development Services Group in New York, she directed the construction of Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. As a leader in sustainability practice, she brought green construction and real estate practices to her projects. The 2.1 million-square-foot tower is New York City’s first high rise designed to meet platinum LEED standards on core and shell construction.

By 2014 Savitsky was thinking about what to do next, even considering scaling back her work life – a thought that lasted as long as a New York minute – when she received an out-of-the-blue call from a recruiter. The challenge? Taking on a new role as director of real estate expansion at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

In the years that followed, Savitsky oversaw the renovation of the museum’s east wing as well as the expansion into the 53 West 53 skyscraper. The revamped museum, which opened in October 2019, boasts 40,000 square feet of additional gallery space that spans three buildings. The project required three separate phases as well as energy-efficient strategies and a sustainability plan, while also keeping the doors open for visitors. It included renovating the existing Ronald S. and Jo Carole Lauder building and extending the museum’s Bauhaus staircase, building a new café and gift shop, six floors of new exhibition space, and a lounge that overlooks the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. The Studio, a new performance space, was added as well.

Thanks to her Stevens education, Savitsky was confident that she could manage the project’s complexities as well as the sometimes confrontational nature of the construction process. “At Stevens, I never felt like a woman in a man’s world,” she notes. “We were just a group of classmates working together.”

Although she spent much of her Stevens years laser-focused on academics, she remembers the fun times as well. She helped found her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, and enjoyed participating in sports and social events on campus. She also appreciates having dormed at Stevens. “It teaches you how to be independent,” she says.

Rigorous academics continue to define the Stevens experience, but Savitsky likes to remind today’s students to also take time out from study. “Take a breath from time to time,” she advises. “You’ll never get these years back, so enjoy them!”


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