Lynne Sagalyn PhD ’80 is the author of Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money, and the Rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, published by Oxford University Press in September 2016. At 901 pages long, the book is a comprehensive examination of 16-acres of Manhattan real estate and the financial and political struggles over it since the 2001 terrorist attack. Sagalyn, a professor emerita of real estate at Columbia Business School and the author of four books, says the book started out as a paper on city planning that morphed into a larger project years in the making.
“The hardest part was trying to figure out what the storyline should be, and how to simplify the complexity of the big events,” says Sagalyn. “There was so much detail and so much controversy that it took a while to figure out the storyline.”
In the process of writing the book, Sagalyn cited plenty of other alumni: Guy Nordenson ‘77, Hilary Ballon PhD ‘85, and her husband Gary Hack PhD ‘76, who served as urban designer for Daniel Libeskind’s master plan for Ground Zero. Nowadays, Sagalyn’s own visits to the site are certainly richer given the momentous research task that now lays behind her.
“The memorial pools and the park are beautiful,” she says, “and I like to go there and see how people react to the place. I think the office buildings are just what they are – office buildings. What I really like now is that the site is a part of lower Manhattan and not set off in a superblock like it was before. I’m always very quiet and contemplative when I go down there.”
Listen to the full interview with Sagaryn above then visit the Slice of MIT Podcast page on SoundCloud for the full archive of podcast episodes from the MIT Alumni Association.