Photos courtesy of Peter Walker Partners Landscape Architecture.

Editor’s Note: Urban design was charged with elevated responsibility as the towers tragically fell on September 11, 2001. Among the conflicts of rebuilding New York’s reputation and economy after the catastrophe, the most urgent question that emerged concerned the organization of urban space: how to respect the memory of the towers and those victimized that day through the relationships of open spaces, building footprints, and street traffic. Urbanists would eventually carve through the superblocks that eschewed the city’s historic grid, soften the mid-century modernism championed by Minoru Yamasaki but beloved by few, and pierce through former footprints to build a memorial worthy of the occasion.
For this month’s Roll Call, we consider: Did urban design live up to its newfound expectations? Were the greatest accomplishments at Ground Zero economic, architectural, or urban? What were the blunders we might have avoided? We approached three Fellows of the Forum who were intimately involved in rebuilding Ground Zero—Peter Walker, Alex Garvin, and Vishaan Chakrabarti—to reflect on decision-making over a decade of reconstruction in Lower Manhattan. –DM