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BY YANNIC RACK |
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.