Letter to Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Mr. Whitehead (Tuesday, April 09, 2002)

The memorial

“A memorial at all times has to remind us what it stands for and make us remember what inspired it; a memorial has to point to the future and needs to be a seed from which new life can grow. A memorial just for its own sake is a lost cause, standing in vain.”

– Alex Stenzel

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Dear Mr. Whitehead,

The concept for the B1-BE Tower originated at the end of 1999. It was to be the first of a series of structures built in the city of Berlin. We were hoping that the concept eventually would catch on and other cities world wide would sponsor similar structures. The idea was to create both a memorial that reminded us of the atrocities of the twentieth century and a symbol of world unity. The tower was intended to be a beacon for our children, to give them guidance and a vision for a more united world. The Web side of the tower was designed to be a vehicle for free visual expression. By hosting photo and video images sent from every corner of the world, and displaying them on monitors within the structure of the tower, we wanted to turn the power of the Internet inside out. Additionally an educational game featured on computer terminals inside the tower was to provide historical, religious, geopolitical and health information in a virtual world created by the program. It was designed to give visitors at every educational level a sense of place in the world community.

The project was introduced to the German industrial community and the city of Berlin between 1999 and 2000. Feedback was extremely positive. However, at a cost of $100 million for the forty-story structure, the project was deemed unfeasible. In addition, we considered the visual-display technology available at that time to be inferior for our needs.

At the start of this year we began reevaluating the project, and have discovered a new transparent-glass-screen technology that is currently in development. These screens are able to display high-resolution color images and will be available at a reasonable cost the beginning of next year. We also redesigned the structure of the tower and can now build it using prefabricated materials at various heights. The cost for a three-story building now will be approximately $3 million.

We recently renewed talks with various companies about sponsoring the first B1-BE Tower. The interest is great. However, we fear the commercial aspect of sponsorship may dominate and our original intention for the B1-BE Tower to be a memorial and symbol of future peace may get lost. Therefore we believe the concept of the B1-BE Tower should be adapted as a memorial for the nation’s September 11th victims.   In this way, it would not only be a far-reaching luminous beacon reminding us of the tragedy, but also a strong seed from which new lives with a vision for a more united world could sprout. Only life is able to defeat death. That is why a memorial that points to the future is the only honor grand enough to give to the people who lost their lives on that September morning.

Adaptation of the B1-BE Tower as a memorial for September 11th:

Outside the tower:

In main mode the screens of the tower display the various images that are sent from every corner of the world. On specific dates, images of the September 11th tragedy are displayed on the screens, tiled together over the entire structure of the tower. Images of other atrocities of the twentieth century are displayed on other dates.

Inside the tower:

Inside the tower information about the victims is accessible on computer terminals. Visitors can learn about the innocent people who lost their lives, and the heroes who tried to save them. Information about other atrocities of the twentieth century also will be available at the computer terminals along with an educational program. In addition, all this information will be accessible on the Web side of the B1-BE Tower.

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