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December 2001

An Integrated City University Responds to the WTC Crisis

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CUNY Faculty Experts
Join Collaboration on
World Trade Center Future


Before September 11, the Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College had a busy and important agenda planned for the year—developing strategies for the financing of middle-income housing and for resolving the architectural future of the far west side of Midtown. After the terrorist attack, however, the Institute"s Advisory Board almost immediately began to juggle these long-standing tasks and the urge to focus on perhaps the single greatest land-use and real estate challenge New York City has ever faced: deciding whether, how, and under what political and economic constraints the World Trade Center site should be returned to use. In the end, the Board compromised. It decided to do both.

The Institute is a unique civic resource, established to address all of the kinds of issues that will have an impact on the future of the WTC site. Executive Director Henry Wollman observes, “We are a real estate institute set within a university framework where questions of value, purpose and meaning may be asked about real estate action. We are also part of the City"s great public university, which takes the whole citizenry of New York as its constituency.”

Drawing upon noted urbanists throughout the CUNY faculty, a new Newman Institute/CUNY Urban Consortium was formed in association with Rutgers University"s Center for Urban Research and the Port Authority. This major collaborative initiative will be charged to develop a series of strategy papers defining issues and alternatives for New York City.

First in a series of forums for government and industry will be a January 11 all-day conference on “Rebuilding Alternatives/Alternatives to Rebuilding.” High on the agenda will be the broad discussion of social and moral issues impinging on future land-use decisions. Among other topics to be addressed will be the economic impact on downtown Manhattan and the rest of the city, the shaping of a city budget, and the chronology and technological problems of rebuilding.

The extraordinary range of CUNY expertise that will be brought to the Consortium"s complex deliberations can be judged from faculty already involved. From the Graduate Center come John Mollenkopf, director of the Urban Research Group and Setha Low of the Program in Environmental Psychology and Anthropology. From Baruch College comes John Goering, director of B.S. Degree Programs in Real Estate and Metropolitan Development in the School of Public Affairs; Henry Wollman, director of the Newman Institute; and Ellen Posner, coordinator of the Consortium.

Representing City College are George Ranalli, Dean of the School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture Chair Lance Brown, and its Institute for Urban Systems director Robert Paaswell, and Michael Sorkin, Director of the Program in Urban Design. Also on the Consortium are Hunter College's Stanley Moses, Chair of the Department of Planning and Urban Affairs and Sean Ahearn, professor of geography and founder of its Center for the Analysis and Research on Spatial Information (CARSI). Queens College professor of economics Elizabeth Roistacher is also a member.