We’ll keep it Paepcke | AspenTimes.com

We’ll keep it Paepcke

Dear Editor:

A few weeks ago, at our request, Lynda and Stewart Resnick graciously agreed to make a very large donation to The Aspen Institute for renovation of the Paepcke Memorial Building.

The plan was to turn the library and gallery into overflow rooms with two-way video for members of the community who came to our events, add ventilation and cooling and new seats, install solar panels and green technology, and repair the wiring and infrastructure in a building that has fallen into disrepair over the decades.

To show our appreciation, we suggested that we would name the auditorium in the building for them, though we would keep the name “Paepcke Building” and refer to it thusly in our communications about any events there. I now realize that this was a mistake. Trying to make such an ahistoric distinction seemed to dilute Walter Paepcke’s legacy, which was the opposite of our intention in trying to renovate the building named after him.

As a result, we are abandoning the plan. The Resnicks have decided to direct their money to other programs at the Institute. I want to say how deeply grateful I am to them. Over the years, they have been extraordinarily generous in supporting the Institute as a whole, its health and communications programs, its art, and many of its other activities, with great grace, deep personal involvement, and little public fanfare.

Although our plans for renovating the Paepcke Building are being put on hold, we do believe it is a necessary project, especially if we want to do honor to his legacy. Some who publicly questioned the naming plan indicated they would be willing to help if we abandoned it, and we appreciate that. If we can raise the money, we hope to accomplish all or part of what we planned.

I apologize to the Resnicks and to the community for causing discomfort by recommending a flawed plan.

Walter Isaacson


The Aspen Institute