Museum and Memorial to The Baltic Way
A symbol of remembrance and a reminder of strength.
George Little - Project Designer
Bob Little, AIA - Design Principal
The Memorial and Museum for The Baltic Way stands tall among the other towers of Riga as a symbol of remembrance for one of history’s largest non-violent protests and the profound result it had on Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. Much like a torch, the tower presents itself to Riga and the Baltic States as a beacon of strength, community, and resilience.
A brief history
On August 23rd, 1989, approximately two million people joined hands to form a human chain stretching 600km through the three Baltic States: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The goal was to demonstrate the unity of their efforts in order to gain freedom from the 50-year occupation of the Soviet Union. It is argued that this non-violent demonstration led to the Baltic States regaining their Independence in 1990.
Context: Urban and Geo-political
The competition called for a museum and memorial for people to both learn and reflect on the events that led to the Baltic Way. Influenced by Russia’s recently military campaigns in Ukraine, the design team was careful not to replicate the symbols and formal gestures of the Soviet Union. Instead, the Museum and Memorial for the Batlic Way is an urban symbol to remind the Baltic people of what happened 25 years ago. The new tower becomes part of a historical dialogue with the other towers of Riga, each from a distinct era and political association. This symbol is not meant to instill fear, rather it is designed to remind the Latvian people that their strength, discipline, and non-violent demonstration has prevailed in cultivating a safe and free home.
The beginning of a memorable climb.
Visible from the beginning of a memorable climb to the top of the tower, the three stands that hold-up the observation deck and gallery are symbolic for each of the three Baltic states.
A place for free speech.
The Gathering Stair is a space for free speech and live performance. The famous National Library of Latvia can be seen across the river.
The tower is supported by a steel crane-like truss structure which houses the elevator in its center. The ‘strands’, which are constructed from perforated metal panels of varying transparencies, attach to the central structure. Sandwiched between these two strands are a set external stairs taking visitors from the lobby to the gallery and observation deck at the top of the tower.