The plan for a Berlin memorial to Jews murdered in the Holocaust has been dogged by controversy since it was introduced 11 years ago. Several critics, including writer Günter Grass, opposed any single memorial as inadequate, while some members of the Jewish community feared the bickering would obscure the meaning behind the monument. In 1995 the memorial’s original design, a massive stone plate inscribed with the names of millions of Jewish victims, was criticized as too grandiose and vetoed by chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Three years later architect Peter Eisenman and sculptor Richard Serra won an international competition for their design–thousands of concrete pillars of varying heights spaced evenly in rows. Serra later dropped out of the project, but with the support of the German government Eisenman continued with the original design, which will be constructed near the Brandenburg Gate. Visitors will be able to walk among what Eisenman has called “a field of memory,” a massive grid of human-size elements, symbolizing both the collective and individual natures of the tragedy.

Eisenman will talk about his project at 7 PM on Thursday, October 21, at Northwestern University’s Josephine Louis Theatre, 1979 South Campus Drive in Evanston. Admission is $10; call 847-491-5209 for reservations.