The Sphere is a large metallic sculpture by German sculptor Fritz Koenig, currently displayed in Battery Park, New York City, that once stood in the middle of Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the area between the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan. After being recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers after the 11 September attacks, the artwork faced an uncertain fate, 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 from 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 Sphere is 25 feet high and cast in 52 bronze segments. Koenig considered it his "biggest child". It was put together in Bremen, Germany and shipped as a whole to Lower Manhattan.The artwork 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 to mimic the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Masjid al-Haram, in which The Sphere stood at the place of the Kaaba.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.
The piece was commissioned by the owner of the World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), 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 Gallery in Manhattan. Koenig started work in 1967 in his barn 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.