Jason Tirri ’00 Sees the Big Picture
Lehrer Cumming’s Jason Tirri ’00 helped to rebuild the World Trade Center and served as the company’s project manager for Stevens’ University Center Complex. In his new role as vice president and New Jersey lead, Tirri will be instrumental as Lehrer Cumming looks to take its place as the largest independent project management company in the world.
Maybe it was the boyhood visits to construction sites with his grandfather who was a union carpenter. Perhaps it was his affinity for math, fine-tuned through classical piano training. Whatever the inspiration, Jason Tirri ’00 knew from an early age that his future would involve building things. Building big things.
“At first, I thought I wanted to be an architect,” he says. “But as I visited colleges with architecture programs, my interest in the field began to fade. What I did know was that I wanted to get a great education and participate in athletics. Stevens presented that opportunity.”
“The more I learned about engineering, the more my fascination with it grew,” he continues. “And at Stevens, I could pursue that while playing soccer. Hoboken was an exciting frontier – far from home but not too far.”
Tirri appreciated that his family could visit for events and games, and he fell in love with New York City. He joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and played soccer for his four years at Stevens, serving as captain of the team in his senior year.
“The soccer program provided valuable lessons in leadership and collaboration, and in working together for the greater good,” he says. “The fraternity provided an instant bond with some 30 or 40 brothers.”
While civil engineering offered an attractive emphasis on both building and math, endless hours of number crunching and design work held less appeal. Tirri needed to be around people.
“In my junior year, I shifted my minor to construction management,” he says. “This allowed me to go in the field, collaborate with others, meet with clients and learn about their vision and goals for each project.”
Tirri began his career as assistant project manager at Tishman Construction. Since then, his professional trajectory has included serving as project manager for Reckson Associates; Real Estate Development & Construction consultant for CM&D International; deputy chief of staff, World Trade Center Construction & Development for The Louis Berger Group; and senior development manager for HFZ Capital Group. He joined Lehrer Cumming in 2016, rising from the role of director to his current position as vice president and New Jersey lead.
“I have been fortunate enough to see many sides of the industry,” Tirri says. “I have worked for construction managers, developers and consultants.”
He has also seen many sides of the World Trade Center’s history. “Soon after I graduated from Stevens, 9/11 happened,” he notes. “Shortly after, I went down to the site to help with the cleanup. Years later, after I decided to move from construction to development, I went back to help rebuild the site.”
Tirri earned an MBA in Finance and Management from Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business to support his growing responsibilities.
And while 9/11 provides a significant framing for Tirri’s career, so does Stevens. “During the World Trade Center project, we had opportunities to bring special guests to the site for tours,” he recalls. “President Farvardin was among those who visited. I was very proud to show him what the team was working on, and the significant progress being made.”
Tirri had kept in touch with his Delta Tau Delta brothers over the years, but after President Farvardin’s visit, Tirri began connecting with his alma mater in a bigger way. When Lehrer Cumming was selected to lead Stevens’ University Center Complex project – the largest capital project in the university’s history – Tirri became the project manager. “It was a very special opportunity,” he says. “I was able to give back to Stevens in a way that most alumni can’t.”
“Being on campus every day for three years, seeing the inner workings of the university, gave me a whole new perspective about what it takes to operate an educational institution,” he adds. “There is a lot more to it than you realize when you are a student.”
Although the project was completed last year, Tirri remains as involved at Stevens as he can. “I have so many wonderful memories from my student days,” he says. “Growing up at Stevens, experiencing the academics, fraternity life and soccer, gave me a great start to adulthood.”
Stevens also prepared him for the wild ride that comes with large-scale development and construction. “There is never a dull moment,” he says with a laugh. “Things will go wrong. You have to embrace it. Success lies in your ability to find solutions.”
On this point, Tirri returns to his Stevens education. “Stevens’ greatest gift is a problem-solving approach to life,” he says. “I might not remember everything I learned in calculus, but I will always be able to get to the core of an issue and develop a plan of action.”
As the New Jersey Lead for Lehrer Cumming, Tirri will be crucial to the company’s rise to becoming the largest independent project management company in the world. “I will be growing the business from a client perspective and from a personnel perspective.”
Although he’s been in the role for just a few months, he is already mentoring and developing the leadership potential of his team.
“The pre-conceptions I came to Stevens with, the understanding of my field that I gained while there, and my reflections since are all very different,” Tirri says. “Fortunately, Stevens offers so much more than an engineering degree. I was able to get involved in a variety of things. I met people who have different backgrounds and interests, yet we shared – and continue to share – a common thread.”