In the weeks and months following our handshake, Silverstein Properties held meetings at their offices, with their selected architects as well as with other technical people from their office and from outside firms. Several people from Tishman Construction went to those meetings, including my son, Dan, and myself.
After having served a half-century in the company, I had turned over everything to Dan, who was now the leader and the president of Tishman Construction. An accomplished, seasoned professional in the field, he was supervising over a billion dollars’ worth of new construction in various locations around the country. But when we had done our previous job with Silverstein Properties, Dan had not been in charge, or even a top executive at Tishman Construction. Larry and his lieutenants seemed always to look to me for opinions, and never to Dan. That was understandable, since they had known me from decades of interaction on many projects, but it upset me.
At these meetings, Dan never objected to everyone turning to me rather than to him, but I could tell that he was uncomfortable. So was I. Very uncomfortable. And not for my own sake but for Dan’s: he was now the leader of the company and deserved to be recognized as such. I understood that Silverstein’s people and all the old time consultants, out of the force of habit, had been looking to me for my opinions and that they did not really know Dan, who had come up in the company in the years since we had last worked with Larry. Nonetheless, because of the discomfort that I believed Dan was experiencing, I came to the conviction that there was only one thing for me to do: get out of the way.
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So when the time came for the next meeting on Number 7, I found an excuse not to attend. I believed that all of the meeting’s aspects would go smoothly with Dan and his colleagues in charge of providing the “Tishman input,” and they did. Several times more I was invited to these pre-construction meetings, but after I had made my third excuse, the Silverstein people, the architects, and others understood what was going on, and plunged ahead with Dan and his team and without the “old man.” I felt pride that the project would continue and would be done well by Dan’s team, but I also experienced a sharp sense of emotional loss at not being on the front lines as Number 7 and succeeding major projects were designed and constructed.
A few years later, when Number 7 was completed, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Dan was on the platform for it and was acknowledged by Larry Silverstein and New York Governor George Pataki. I was in the crowd below the platform and away from it, content to be an onlooker. I must confess, however, that I was pleased when from the podium Larry acknowledged my presence.
Between the collapses of the Towers and the opening of Number 7, not only had that latter building been completed, but Tishman Construction had also been tapped to begin the rebuilding of the new World Trade Center. That fact astonished me: Tishman Construction would build this immense project again! It was a measure of trust in