Michael Eisner also came around to accepting that the collection was valuable and should be kept intact, even if it was sold. Later, he told me that he had spoken to President Jacques Chirac about purchasing it when the two were in negotiations for a Disneyland in France; it would have gone to the Musee de l’Homme, in Paris, the world’s leading anthropological museum. That transaction did not take place, but still later, when Eisner was about to leave The Disney Company after more than a decade, one of his final acts was to donate the collection, intact, to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, where it has become the Disney Tishman African Art Collection, on display for millions of visitors each year. That was a very fitting end to the saga, one that gratified me and would have gratified Paul, who by that time had long since passed on.
A large part of my working life has been tied to working with the Disney Company on various projects, and I am proud of those projects and of the long association. Building ECPOT and the hotels remains one of my best legacies it’s not every builder who is able to say that more than ten million people a year visit a place that his company has constructed.
10 Terraced Garden Design Ideas Photo Gallery
Our company continued to build for and with Disney, rather intensely, for a half-dozen years after the completion of EPCOT and the Dolphin and Swan Hotels. By that time, the Disney construction executives had returned from Japan, and decided that they, rather than we, should be overseeing any construction done on Disney properties. I understood this and also sensed that this was a turf war and that a new Disney construction chief did not want us competing for his bosses’ ears.
Fortunately we had many other projects to do, and we had a continuing relationship with Disney through our three hotels serving Disney World and EPCOT. Interestingly enough, even after the elapse of the ten-year moratorium period for a convention center, no equal-size convention center hotels were erected in the area, which attests to Disney’s satisfaction with the one we had created. We have made sure to uphold our part of the arrangement with Disney by spending liberally to update and refit the hotels over the years.
As the 1990s began, the Disney people called us in on three projects in midtown New York City, two in Times Square, the New Amsterdam Theater and the ESPN store in Times Square; the third project, the studio of WABC, the ABC network’s flagship television station, was also in Times Square. On the latter two projects, general contractors had been engaged at the outset but there had been some problems with them. My take on why the contractors had failed was, among other reasons, Disney’s proclivity for “designing as you go” in the midst of construction. Our CM approach more easily encompassed this sort of evolving-idea construction.
I contributed a bit to bringing Disney to 42nd Street. One day, several Disney executives and I visited the then-decrepit New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. Mushrooms were growing in the interior. There