Fate of WTC Sphere keeps turning

The Fritz Koenig sculpture that formed the centerpiece of the old World Trade Center plaza until it was damaged in the 9/11 attacks. Since then it has stood in The Battery, as locals lobby to return it to its original site.

The Fritz Koenig sculpture that formed the centerpiece of the old World Trade Center plaza until it was damaged in the 9/11 attacks. Since then it has stood in The Battery, as locals lobby to return it to its original site.


The ultimate home of “the Sphere” is still in limbo, but the iconic artwork rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center might yet return to its former site — or at least its de facto owner is keeping an open mind.

“We have not closed our mind to the future of the Sphere,” said Port Authority program director Glen Guzi when the marred monument’s fate came up at the Jan. 11 meeting of the Community Board 1 Planning Committee.

The comment stoked hopes that the 25-foot-high brass orb that formed the centerpiece of the old World Trade Center plaza might eventually return to its original site, which now hosts the National September 11 Memorial.

But Guzi conceded that returning the Sphere would be no simple matter.

“It’s a complex issue, and it’s been a controversial issue,” he said.

The Fritz Koenig sculpture was damaged by the catastrophic collapse of the twin towers in the 9/11 attacks, but when it was retrieved from the rubble relatively intact, the Sphere quickly became a symbol of Downtown’s resilience.

It has languished in The Battery since 2002, roughly half a mile south of its original location, where many argue it doesn’t belong.

“Putting the Sphere anywhere else [but the plaza] denies its meaning and betrays the innocents who perished on 9/11,” Michael Burke, whose firefighter brother died in the terrorist attacks, told Downtown Express in 2012.

Burke has started a petition to relocate the Sphere to its original site — something even the artwork’s current hosts support.

“It’s temporarily sited in The Battery, and we’ve been very honored to have it, but we realize that this is not its permanent home,” said Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, which manages the park.

Guzi stayed vague on details, saying there would be an ongoing dialog, but top brass at the authority have already confirmed that they want the Sphere restored to its former location.

“This is an artifact that survived and was affected by the horrors of 9/11, and placing it on the memorial plaza, we think, is entirely appropriate,” The Port Autbhority’s executive director Pat Foye told Downtown Express in a statement.

The ball is now once again in the court of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum foundation, which has in the past refused to include the sculpture in its current memorial.

A spokesperson for the memorial foundation declined to comment on the fate of the Sphere.

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6 Responses to Fate of WTC Sphere keeps turning

  1. The inspiring Sphere, which was commissioned and dedicated to World Peace at its inception, took on far more significance when it survived the crashing towers. How ironic that it has not been able to withstand the crushing Ground Zero bureaucracy.

    Who made Michael Bloomberg and Co. God? What is the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation? Its primary function was to raise the money to fund the construction, which it only partially succeeded in doing. So what gives it/them the right to dictate what belongs on the site? Who gave them/it the power banish this authentic part of OUR history from its rightful place of honor? And when are we going to take that power back?

  2. There is no integrity in denying the Sphere a place at the WTC Memorial. It is an affront to truth and memory. And denies the expressed wish of the public many times over. Who does this memorial belong to? The people or the handful at the memorial foundation? BTW, memorial foundation Michael Bloomberg sure regarded the Sphere as a reverent artifact in the past; see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw340FlpUU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-rfC_JXId8. Today? Ignore it.

  3. its disgraceful that the sphere has still not been returned to its rightful place after all these years of obstruction and foot dragging. Bloomberg's appointed elitist bunch is out of touch with the wishes and concerns of the majority of family members of victims and first responders who actually performed the rescue and recovery, as well as New York residents. Their attitude is why should these groups be consulted when we know whats best for everyone. Take it easy on the September 11 Museum and Memorial hierarchy of Daniels and Greenwald though. its tough to live on $8,000 a week salary and be able to keep your attention on what is important when you are just scraping by.

  4. The Sphere has been denied a place at the memorial because it would create a visible physical reminder of the former WTC. Keeping the site "pure" means that physical reminders must not be present unless something is there to obscure or limit it. So a majority the reminders need to be hid away from plain sight, and they couldn't get the Sphere anywhere underground, so it is not welcome to the site it used to be a part of.

    The new WTC is the original "Safe Space" where the ideas and opinions of the general public are filtered out and those of the or favoring the elite are the only ones that actually exist. Democracy isn't welcome here. This is strictly ruled by the PANYNJ: Enron without Consequences.

  5. I am thrilled to learn that the Port Authority has not turned its back on the sphere! If the Memorial planners could find a way to incorporate the "Survivor's Tree" then there should be a place for the Sphere. The Sphere, a work of art that stood firmly next to the towers, it is an icon for the thousands of people that walked into the WTC every day. And as it survived, by some miracle, it is only fitting that it be returned to it's original location – watching over the footprints of the WTC Memorial. It survived horrific destruction. It has earned the right to be placed next to the resting place of our family members and the memorial. The 9/11 family members would be ever so appreciative to the Port Authority and the 9/11 Memorial if they could please honor this surviving sculpture with the other important relics of the WTC site.

  6. Its an eyesore and a painful reminder of that horrible day- It should be melted down and forgotten

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