A UNIVERSITY course leader who played a role in the redevelopment after 9/11 has revealed what he did as the 20th anniversary of the attacks is marked.

Scott Sworts is the programme lead for postgraduate architecture at Oxford Brookes University, meaning he oversees the course.

Mr Sworts, from Denver, has taught at Brookes for four years and was heavily involved in the plans to rebuild after 9/11.

He was teaching at the University of Colorado Boulder at the time and helped the people of Lower Manhattan get their voices heard.

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“The engineer who supervised the construction of the World Trade Center was at the university and he gave a talk after 9/11 about the rebuilding project,” he said.

“We asked to be involved – I had a class of students and we cobbled together and worked with a grassroots organisation called Rebuild Downtown Our Town.

“There was a collection of architects, urban planners and legal people, and it was a very loud voice in the room, they were the only actual community voice.

“One of the things that is important in situations in like this is to listen to the voices of the people involved.

“At that point, there was plans to rebuild the World Trade Center as it was before, but that was not what the people of Lower Manhattan wanted.

“We did a huge amount of research to find out what people wanted and what we created went to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC).”

Oxford Mail: An Oxford Brookes University course leader helped in the redevelopment after 9/11. Picture: Scott SwortsAn Oxford Brookes University course leader helped in the redevelopment after 9/11. Picture: Scott Sworts

The LMDC was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to help plan and coordinate the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan.

“The LMDC got all of our stuff and released their guidance, which included a lot of the stuff we did,” said Mr Sworts.

“There were echoes of what some of the students did in what then happened.

“It meant the voices of the community got heard – we didn’t get everything but we won some pretty big things.

“One important thing the community got was the reconnection of streets and the Lower Manhattan transit hub was redeveloped into a mass transit system.

“The other really big thing was that they wanted the buildings to be green and sustainable, and it was one of the first major urban redevelopments that was done sustainably.

“It was very rewarding for me to be involved but also very painful to hear some of the stories.”

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Mr Sworts also offered his expertise on why the Twin Towers collapsed the way they did, and what lessons were learnt after the attack.

He said: “There’s a lot of conversation over whether the buildings were flawed or not but this isn’t something like Grenfell where the building design was flawed.

“With 9/11, no building could have survived what happened, with there being so much jet fuel.

“Several lessons were learnt, one of them being you have to have absolutely impenetrable, vertical escape routes.

“Another lesson learnt was that you had people going down the stairs while at the same time, you had firefighters in full kit going up, so there had to be a dedicated fire stairwell for firefighters.

“They’re two of the biggest lessons that were learnt architecturally.”