The Sphere

The Sphere

"The Sphere" is a large metallic sculpture by German sculptor Fritz Koenig, currently displayed in Battery Park, that once stood in the middle of Austin 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, its fate was initially uncertain 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 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.

The artwork

The piece was commissioned by the owner of the World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in 1966. The Authority's original choice had been Henry Moore, but Koenig was chosen after architect Minoru Yamasaki saw some of Koenig's work at the Staempfli Gall] in Bavaria, while the WTC was in the planning stages, and finished it four years later in time for the opening of the towers. Officially titled "Große Kugelkaryatide" (Great Spherical Caryatid) by the artist, New Yorkers soon nicknamed it "The Sphere." It was meant to symbolize world peace through world trade, and was placed at the center of a ring of fountains and other decorative touches designed by trade center architect Minoru Yamasaki. It was set to rotate once every 24 hours, and its base became a popular lunch spot for workers in the trade center on days with good weather.

After 9/11

Upon recovery from the rubble pile, where an airliner seat and papers from the various offices in the World Trade Center were discovered within, it was dismantled and sent to storage near John F. Kennedy International Airport. Its extraction had been widely covered in local news media in the New York metropolitan area, however, and as it was a memorable feature of the Twin Towers site, there was much discussion about using it in a memorial, especially since it seemed to have come through the attacks relatively unscathed.

German film director Percy Adlon, who had twice previously devoted films to Koenig, made "Koenigs Kugel" (Koenig's Sphere) at a time when the sculpture's fate was still uncertain. The artist and the director visit Ground Zero five weeks after the attacks as the former retells the story of its creation.

At first, Koenig opposed reinstalling "The Sphere," considering it "a beautiful corpse."

The sculpture was eventually returned to Manhattan, and on March 11, 2002, six months to the day after the attacks, it was re-erected in Battery Park, near the Hope Garden, several blocks away from where it once stood. Koenig himself supervised the work; it took four engineers and 15 ironworkers to create a new base. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani and other local officials spoke at a ceremony rededicating it as a memorial to the victims.

"It was a sculpture, now it's a monument," Koenig said, noting how the thin globe had mostly survived the cataclysm. "It now has a different beauty, one I could never imagine. It has its own life - different from the one I gave to it."

The plaque alongside "The Sphere" reads as follows:

"For three decades, this sculpture stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center. Entitled "The Sphere", it was conceived by artist Fritz Koenig as a symbol of world peace. It was damaged during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but endures as an icon of hope and the indestructible spirit of this country. The Sphere was placed here on March 11, 2002 as a temporary memorial to all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center."

"This eternal flame was ignited on September 11, 2002 in honor of all those that were lost. Their spirit and sacrifice will never be forgotten."


External links

* [ Koenig's Sphere] on Percy Adlon's site.
* [ Koenig's Sphere] on the IMDb

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