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Retracing the Original Footsteps to CityWalk

May 01, 2000

I was amused to read the April 24 Counterpunch response ("The Real Mastermind Behind CityWalk") by Jim Nelson to my "CityWalk Talk" letter of April 16.

First of all, let me state that I bear no malice toward Jon Jerde. I was delighted by the Westside Pavilion when it opened; I enjoy his M.C. Escher-esque Horton Plaza (unless I have to get somewhere quickly) design and think his execution of CityWalk is pretty entertaining. We even appropriated some of his people when I was the senior concept designer for Sega GameWorks (I invite you to ask them about the origin of the CityWalk concept). Jerde's "deep pool of imagination" (as Nelson put it), however, apparently was fed on at least one occasion by the Walt Disney Imagineering water table.

Ironically, Nelson's own dates, illustration and information support and corroborate the facts stated in my original letter.

1. Nelson did not attend the 1988 Disney Island presentations. Hence, he does not have the slightest clue as to the content of what Jerde saw and subsequently brought to the table in 1989 and 1990 (Nelson's own dates).

2. The 1989 drawing presented to bolster Nelson's argument only proves my assertions. This concept (which was tired even back in 1989; nice drawing, though) was ultimately rejected (in Nelson's own words: "It did not contain any of the elements that Stout claimed Jerde saw in one of his presentations") and replaced by our much more vibrant and original Disney Island ideas. Because collaborators Nelson and Richard Orne had never seen our Walt Disney Imagineering presentation, I am certain that the concepts Jerde brought to the table in 1990 were considered to be boldly inventive and original. Indeed, they were when we originally presented them back in 1988!

The implication that I am part of a legion who pops up to claim credit for hits is laughable. Architects Michael Graves and Frank Gehry were also among those to whom we gave the Disney Island presentations. I have never suggested that I was responsible for any of their subsequent successes. But then, they never lifted any of my creative concepts.



Jim Nelson states, "Sadly, Stout is not the first person to pop up claiming credit for some part of CityWalk." Well, can I be the first person to pop up and proudly say, "I had absolutely nothing to do with any part of CityWalk!"


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