Texas Center Celebrates Asia Society’s Diamond Anniversary
HOUSTON, October 20, 2016 – Asia Society marked six decades of work with Asia Society Celebrates 60: A Reflection on 60 Years of Building Understanding. The luncheon featured global and local panelists, which included Dr. Vishakha Desai (former President, Asia Society Global), Charles C. Foster (former Chairman, Asia Society Texas Center), Charles Rockefeller (Trustee, Asia Society Global), and Roger W. Wallace (founding Chairman, Asia Society Texas Center). Asia Society Global Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski served as moderator of the discussion, which focused on Asia Society’s accomplishments and growth across Asia and the West.
Asia Society was founded in 1956 by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III, the grandfather of panelist Charles Rockefeller. The younger Rockefeller shared stories from his family’s storied legacy, including how his own involvement was spurred by a conversation with former Asia Society Global Chairman Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Former Global President Dr. Desai shared that she became interested with Asia Society as a student because it was the “only institution consistently committed to Asia.” Wallace’s role with the organization grew from his personal travel in Asia and his desire to expand Asia Society to Texas. He eventually engaged the Bush Family and Ambassador Roy Huffington, who were instrumental in helping bring Asia Society to Houston.
Foster told many stories about his 20 plus years as the chairman of the Texas Center. He noted that the impetus for Asia Society in Houston began during a 1990’s capital campaign meeting held at the Rockefeller family estate. The initial stretch budget of $10 million was far from the final tally of $48.4 million Foster shared, resulting in a world-class structure designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. Mr. Foster and Dr. Desai reminisced about Asia Society’s golden anniversary in 2006 when the Texas and Hong Kong centers presented plans for new buildings, both of which opened six years later. This marked the first instance the New York Times reported Asia Society’s work on a global scale. Dr. Desai also added that the race between Foster and Hong Kong’s Chairman Ronnie Chen to finish construction first was healthy, “no matter wherever you are, (competition) allows you to energize people.”
Asia Society Texas Center and the Hong Kong Center opened their doors to the public in 2012.