A ‘Sphere’ That Has Taken a Year to Roll Nowhere

By David W. Dunlap The New York Times

Badly damaged, the “Sphere” survived the attack on the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001, and has been adopted by many as a symbol of resilience and hope. Archiv Fritz Koenig

Badly damaged, the “Sphere” survived the attack on the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001, and has been adopted by many as a symbol of resilience and hope. Archive Fritz Koenig

The last word on the fate of Fritz Koenig’s “Sphere” for the World Trade Center, installed in 2002 at Battery Park as the city’s interim 9/11 memorial, came a year ago from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “I think it’s beautiful where it is,” he said.

And that’s where it has remained. The “Sphere,” which was to have been moved in the late spring of 2012, is still in Battery Park. If officials at City Hall, the parks department, the Battery Conservancy, the Port Authority or the 9/11 Memorial have a plan to relocate the 25-foot sculpture — badly damaged when the twin towers crashed down around it on September 11, 2001 — they have not disclosed it.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, of which Mr. Bloomberg is chairman, does not want the sculpture. “We fully, 100 percent support the ‘Sphere’ being kept outside in a way the public can experience whenever they want to,” Joseph C. Daniels, the foundation president, said last year. “But it’s not going to be incorporated in the eight-acre memorial plaza.”

Despite the beginning of renovation work at Battery Park, the “Sphere” remains. David W. Dunlap, The New York Times

Despite the beginning of renovation work at Battery Park, the “Sphere” remains. David W. Dunlap, The New York Times

He said the plaza, designed by Michael Arad, was not intended for such artifacts of the attack. Also, since the plaza doubles as a rooftop for the memorial museum and PATH station, a considerable amount of structural retrofitting might be required to accommodate the 22.5-ton artwork. It can’t simply be plopped down.

The Battery Conservancy, headed by Warrie Price, does not want the “Sphere” in Battery Park, which it runs under contract with the parks department. Though the sculpture may be the biggest draw in the park after Castle Clinton, it was installed as an interim measure and has no place in the long-term renovation plan. The conservancy may also be concerned that Battery Park has so many memorials already that it will begin to feel like a necropolis.

Despite Ms. Price’s opposition, and despite the fact that she is the administrator of Battery Park, she must ultimately defer to the parks department, which Mayor Bloomberg controls through the parks commissioner. So the “Sphere” stays.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the sculpture, considered returning the “Sphere” to Hangar 17 at Kennedy International Airport, where other large-scale artifacts of 9/11 have been stored. But Patrick J. Foye, the executive director, put a halt to that plan more than a year ago, in deference to the wishes of victims’ family members.

He has since expressed general support for bringing the sculpture back to the trade center. But Mr. Foye has not elaborated on where, exactly, the “Sphere” might go, though the authority found a place for “America’s Response Monument (De Oppresso Liber),” an equestrian bronze honoring the Army Special Forces in Afghanistan.

Commencement of the renovation of Battery Park was supposed to be the nonnegotiable deadline for a relocation plan, since the “Sphere” stands in the middle of the construction area. But work crews have devised a way around it, suggesting strongly that Mr. Bloomberg’s last words a year ago were the last word indeed.

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