It’s been 10 years since the September 11 terror attacks in the US, but for most, the memory remains fresh. And that’s what executive producer and filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, along with executive producer-architect Danny Forster and his team, tried to incorporate into the Discovery Channel show, Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero.
Compiling stories of people who’ve reconstructed the iconic site took over three years. “This isn’t a documentary about 9/11, but about the day after, because that’s when you saw the best of humanity,” says Forster. Where the twin towers were once located, now stand four skyscrapers, including the 104-storey One World Trade Center, a transportation hub, museum and a memorial featuring the largest man-made waterfall in history, spread over an area of 16 acres. “It’s not just an office building. What’s also different is that the roads will come through Ground Zero, which they never did before,” he says, explaining the design of the memorial pools at the bottom of the waterfall. “The footprints of the original towers have been made into gigantic open holes that will have water cascading down the sides, then dropping into a hole in the centre. It’s a massive void which the water will never fill, it will always remain empty.”
After dealing with the government for permissions for years, the makers of the show met the builders and architects to gather over 1,000 hours of footage. “For 10 years, no one could see Ground Zero. It was all hidden,” says Forster, adding, “Part of the series looks at the significance of the design, not just symbolically or patriotically, but also how, functionally, this new design will create a better neighborhood.”
Tower One, which is the biggest building on the site, is now also the tallest in America at 1,776 feet. “Interestingly, 1776 also happens to be the date when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This tower is probably the strongest and safest skyscraper ever built, so the memory of what happened has been factored into the design,” explains Forster. “At this site, the icon is not what is there, but what isn’t. It’s the missing towers we Americans remember.”