The Port Authority has yet to announce a permanent home for the battered 22.5 ton sculpture “The Sphere,” the iconic memorial to the tragedy of Sept. 11 that now resides in Battery Park. But renderings prepared for a possible presentation, obtained by the Trib, show the Authority’s concept of how the sculpture might look in the future Liberty Park—near the World Trade Center site but not on it.
The renderings show two optional locations for “The Sphere” on the elevated park, to be constructed above the Vehicle Security Center on Liberty Street. Acording to one image, the sphere would be visible from the Sept. 11 Memorial Plaza across the street.
Whether the renderings will become part of a formal presentation to the community is unclear. A Port Authority spokesman declined to comment to the Trib on its plans for the sculpture. “We are in ongoing discussions with family members about the placement of the Sphere,” Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said in an email statement. A spokesman for the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum responded with a similar statement.
Fritz Koenig’s “The Sphere,” which has stood in Battery Park since March 2002, must be moved by next summer to make way for construction. No one involved with the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site—not the Port Authority, the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum nor Silverstein Properties—has expressed interest in returning the sculpture to the World Trade Center site, its home for 30 years.
But some victims’ family members continue to advocate for bringing it back to what they see as its rightful place. Michael Burke, the brother of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11 who leads that movement, said he has gathered 7,700 supporters in an online petition.
“It survived the terrorist strike, the terrorist attack upon civilization and humanity and world peace. And now we are moving it somewhere else, because somehow it disturbs the integrity of the Memorial design,” said Burke, who was shown the renderings by the Port Authority and rejects Liberty Park as a site for the sculpture. “Well, what does that tell us about the Memorial design?”
According to its renderings, the Authority appears to be choosing between two locations within the new park. The “West Side” option shows the brass-and-steel sphere near the Liberty Street bridge. The “Center” option places it closer to the site of what will be the rebuilt St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. Though a rendering indicates it can be seen from the Memorial plaza, Burke said it will hardly be noticed from there.
“If it is visible, it sure as hell won’t be prominent,” he said. “It will be mildly noticable, perhaps, when the trees are bare. But no one is going to notice it.”
Not having received a presentation by the Port Authority, Community Board 1 has yet to weigh in on where “The Sphere” should go. Catherine McVay Hughes, chair of the board’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee, said she is not yet taking sides in the controversy but calls the artwork a significant reminder of what happened at the World Trade Center. “It’s the largest unvarnished artifact that will be open to the public,” Hughes said. “It’s important that people can see it.”
Copyright © 2011 The Tribeca Trib.
BY CARL GLASSMAN, Tribeca Trib, December 20, 2011
The Sphere is a large metallic sculpture by German sculptor Fritz Koenig, currently displayed in Battery Park, New York City, that once stood in the middle of Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the area between the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan. After being recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers after the September 11, 2001, attacks, the artwork faced an uncertain fate, and it was dismantled into its components. Although it remained structurally intact, it had been visibly damaged by debris from the airliners that were crashed into the buildings and from the collapsing skyscrapers themselves.
Six months after the attacks, following a documentary film about the sculpture, it was relocated to Battery Park on a temporary basis—without any repairs—and formally rededicated with an eternal flame as a memorial to the victims of 9/11. It has become a major tourist attraction, due partly to the fact that it survived the attacks with only dents and holes.