Alumni, faculty work to rebuild WTC

From the classroom to the skyline of New York City, Yale alumni and professors are leading the effort to rebuild Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yalies are involved in the project both “on-stage and behind the scenes,” Associate Dean at the University of Texas School of Architecture Louise Harpman ARC ’93 said. Many board and staff members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, as well as some of the architects whose plans were chosen for the site, either hold a Yale degree or have taught at the University.

“At the end of the day, I think the rebuilding of the World Trade Center has been a spectacular effort,” Yale Corporation Senior Fellow Roland Betts ’68, a member of the LMDC Board of Directors, said. “Yale can look back and say it was involved.”

In 2002 the LMDC appointed School of Architecture professor Alexander Garvin ’62 ARC ’67 vice president of planning, design and development. Two of his former students, Andrew Winters ARC ’94 and Christopher Glaisek ARC ’96, work on the design and development staff. Stefan Pryor ’93 LAW ’98 serves as Deputy to the Chairman and Chief-of-Staff.

Garvin resigned from his position on the LMDC in 2003 to devote more of his time to his classes at Yale, the New York City Planning Commission and New York City’s 2012 Olympic bid, he then told the New York Daily News. As a member of the New York City Planning Commission, Garvin remains influential in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, Harpman said.

Garvin teaches “Introduction to the Study of the City” in Yale College and teaches in the School of Architecture.

“I think Garvin’s appointment says a lot about Yale and its architectural department,” Alejandra Diaz ’06, who took Garvin’s class last spring, said. “There are people in almost every department at Yale who are leaders in their fields and I think it’s something our school is known for.”

The LMDC was created in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 by New York State Governor George Pataki ’67 and then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.ÊThe corporation was charged with the recovery of the areas affected by the attacks.

“The goals are to make Lower Manhattan a vibrant 24/7 community, to create a fitting memorial to remember those we lost Sept. 11 and during the ’93 World Trade Center bombing and to ensure that Lower Manhattan is an economically vibrant area,” Governor Pataki’s spokeswoman Lynn Rasic said.

Betts said he assumed the responsibility for the rebuilding of the site itself. He ran the competition that resulted in plans for Freedom Tower, a compromise between Daniel Libeskind’s and David Childs’ ’63 ARC ’67 designs. Scott Specht ARC ’93 was the only architect involved in designing the tower who was not a member of Libeskind’s original design team, Harpman said.

Libeskind was the first recipient, in 1999, of Yale’s Louis I. Kahn Professorship for outstanding architects.

Another important goal of the LMDC was the creation of a memorial to remember those lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. A jury of judges, including Yale Corporation member Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86, chose a design from over 5,000 entries.

Lin gained renown for creating the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the Civil Rights memorial in Montgomery, Ala. She also designed the Women’s Table at Yale.

“Reflecting Absence,” the plan by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, won what Rasic said was “the largest competition of its kind in history.”

“It goes to show the profound effect that Sept. 11 had on people from around the world and how important it is that the site is memorialized,” Rasic said.

Yale architecture students contributed indirectly to the rebuilding of the site when then Architecture professors Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry chose the site for classroom inquiry in 2002.

“The school has an engaged response to the conditions at the World Trade Center,” Harpman said.

The end product of the World Trade Center site will have drawn from the expertise of those affiliated with Yale. Betts said accommodating politicians, architects and the public was a complex process.

“It’s always very, very complicated,” Betts said. “That’s why I’m so pleased that so much has been accomplished in two years.”

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