World Trade Center sphere to come home

Story highlights

  • German sculptor Fritz Koenig's "Sphere for Plaza Fountain" is 25 feet high and has 52 bronze segments
  • It was damaged on 9/11 and later rededicated in Battery Park

(CNN)The iconic 25-ton sphere that stood in front of the World Trade Center's twin towers and was heavily damaged in the September 11 terror attack will return to its original home 15 years later.

German sculptor Fritz Koenig's "Sphere for Plaza Fountain" is 25 feet high and has 52 bronze segments.
    The Port Authority's board of commissioners on Thursday announced plans to move the sculpture from its temporary spot in Battery Park to Liberty Park at the National September 11 Memorial plaza.
    Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye recommended the sphere be relocated to its "home" after an enthusiastic push from 9/11 victims' family members to do so.
    Michael Burke led the effort to move the sphere to its permanent home. His brother, Capt. William F. Burke Jr. of Engine Company 21, was killed as a first responder at the catastrophic scene.
    The success of the "Save the Sphere" movement was a long time coming, Burke told CNN. He's been working on this since 2004. More than 7,000 signatures were gathered. The fire truck his brother was in charge of is in a museum.
    The sphere won't, however, be in its exact 1971 birthplace, where Austin J. Tobin Plaza once stood and where a restored Greene Street now sits. Officials hope to avoid potentially "impacting the architecturally consistent design of the memorial plaza," Foye said during the announcement.
    It will instead reside permanently in Liberty Park, which opened in late June above the roof of the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center. This is near the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine that was destroyed when the World Trade Center south tower collapsed on it during the 9/11 attacks. The shrine remains under construction.
    "If it's good enough for the artist, it's good enough for me," Burke told CNN about the location choice.
    Sculpture by Fritz Koenig entitled "The Sphere" in main plaza of the World Trade Center towers in 1976.
    Fritz Koenig says he wasn't notified by the Port Authority about the plans. Only Burke informed him of the news, according to Koenig's spokesperson, Stefanje Weinmayr.
    For the Munich-based sculptor, the installation of the sphere was a central moment in his life, Weinmayr told CNN.
    When he traveled to the site following September 11, he saw his "injured, but surviving child." He was disheartened to feel that the sphere was seemingly unwanted as a memory back in 2002, Koenig told CNN.
    At 92, Koenig won't be making another trip. He was "glad to hear about the sphere coming back to the area she was made for, deeply destroyed and surviving at least."
    "Returning the iconic Koenig sphere to its rightful home at the World Trade Center site symbolizes our resilience in the wake of unspeakable horror and that we will never forget those who were lost on that fateful day in September," Port Authority Vice Chairman Steven M. Cohen said in a news release.
    Memorial Plaza is pleased to see its return as well.
    "As an institution, we said we support the Port's decision to place the Sphere at Liberty Park where millions of visitors will see the 9/11 artifact every year," said September 11 Memorial Plaza Executive Vice President of Communications and Marketing Michael Frazier.
    The 25-ton sphere will be hauled from its temporary dwelling place in Battery Park, where it has sat since its rededication ceremony in 2002.