Architecture People & Places


Louis Kahn in New York

Designed by Louis Kahn in 1974 and completed earlier this year, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park opens to the public on October 24. Photo: Steve Amiaga/ Courtesy FDR Four Freedoms Park

The last project designed by Louis I. Kahn, a park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, has been completed over 38 years after the architect's unexpected death in 1974. The four-acre (1.6-hectare) Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park occupies the East River island's southern tip, with views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn shorelines.

The triangular park pays homage to the 32nd President and his January 6, 1941 "Four Freedoms" State of the Union speech. At its northern end, a grand stair lead visitors to  formal lawn, bordered by wide concrete paths and flanked by precise rows of Little Leaf Linden trees arranged in allees.

Looking south from the entry stair of the Four Freedoms Park. Photo: Paul Warchol/ Courtesy FDR Four Freedoms Park

The walkways all meet at the island's southern tip where a 1,050-pount (476-kilogram) bronze bust of Roosevelt marks the entrance to a 60-foot (18-meter) square rectangular granite plaza that Kahn called the "Room". The plaza has a commanding view across the river of the United Nations buildings and downstream toward the distant Williamsburg Bridge.

The bust of President Roosevelt marks the entry to the "Room" at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. Photo: Paul Warchol/ Courtesy FDR Four Freedoms Park

The project was originally announced in 1973. However a series of events including Kahn's untimely death shortly after completing the park's design, and New York City's financial woes at the time, contributed to its delay. The project was revived in 2005, and in 2010 a $10-million grant helped to kick-start efforts to complete it. Ultimately, an additional $50 million were raised for the park's construction.

An original sketch of the design for the Four Freedoms Park. Image: Louis I. Kahn

The park is part of a larger, 12.5-acre (5.05-hectare) public space on Roosevelt Island. The park opens to the public on Wednesday, October 24, 2012.

The four-acre (1.6-hectare) Four Freedoms Park is part of a larger public area on Roosevelt Island. Photo: Steve Amiaga/ Courtesy FDR Four Freedoms Park

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