As we look back on the terrorist attacks of September 11, the tragic events generated a great deal of cooperation among various disciplines of the construction industry. Shocked by the havoc and sheer wreckage of the disasters, most architects, engineers, and contractors are now simply anxious to become part of any rebuilding effort.

What’s the future of downtown Manhattan? No one knows for sure at this point, but there are a few possibilities. In the long run, the WTC attack might well make Manhattan—the engine of New York City’s economy—into a more concentrated version of what it already is: a first rate information center for businesses choosing to locate in the city’s core districts. New York City already has a larger communications and computer services workforce than any other major metro area in the country, according to the Citizens Budget Commission.

How does the electrical industry fit into the reconstruction picture? We will inevitably see more electrical contractors offering input into the design phase of new construction in the future, due to the increased need for security systems in commercial office buildings—which translates into a greater volume of low-voltage cabling work. This could also mean larger rooms for security equipment, more conduit runs, and greater redundancy in both power systems and network cabling. There may be a need for better or different types of exit and stairway lighting. More attention will probably be given to design/build projects. Airport design will undoubtedly change dramatically. And other forms of power generation will probably receive increased attention, since we rely so heavily on imported crude oil from the Middle East. Despite all of these uncertainties, there’s one absolute: As we incorporate more high-tech security systems into these designs, construction costs will continue to rise.