The Sphere Plaza Fountain, a large metallic sculpture created in 1971 for the World Trade Centre, by German sculptor Fritz Koenig is to be returned to Liberty Park, a new elevated garden at the new World Trade Center in New York. The public space was opened last month by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The sculpture which survived the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan on 9/11 2001 is a symbol of rebirth for many New Yorkers. The work of art was recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers and faced an uncertain fate. It was dismantled into its components although it remained structurally intact and had been visibly damaged by debris from the airliners that were crashed into the buildings and from the collapsing skyscrapers themselves.
Unveiled in 1971, before the completion of the Twin Towers two years later, the 25-foot (eight-meter) centerpiece was removed from the site. It was installed in several places before ending up in Battery Park at Manhattan’s southern tip for the past 14 years.
The 23-tonne bronze artwork will overlook the memorial to victims of the attack. 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 was meant to symbolise world peace through world trade, and was placed at the center of a ring of fountains designed by trade center architect Minoru Yamasaki to mimic the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Masjid al-Haram, in which The Sphere stood at the place of the Kaaba. The structural engineers who took a part on this project was Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA), who helped make the globe possible to rotate once every 24 hours.
Koenig himself supervised the restoration 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 relatively fragile metal 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.”