Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, New York
The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt, set out four goals in his famous 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech and expression; freedom of worship; freedom from want; freedom from fear. The Four Freedoms Park - a spatial celebration of and memorial for what is commonly known as Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech - is finally about to open, almost 40 years after it was originally conceived.
Designed by American architect Louis Kahn in 1973, the space sits on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in the East River of New York City. Due to Kahn’s death in 1974, and the lack of political and financial backing at the time, its plans were shelved for some 30 years and it wasn’t till 2010 that construction work began.
The Four Freedoms Park - a strikingly geometrical, triangular space - revolves around a focal point near its very tip; the 1,050-pound bronze bust of President Roosevelt created by artist Jo Davidson.
It also includes a square granite area that Kahn called the ’Room’ - an open-air plaza looking towards the water and the United Nations building across the river. True to the architect’s vision, the stone used was the same one that Kahn specified in 1973 (granite from North Carolina’s Mont Airy).
The beautifully landscaped park also features five Copper Beech trees, which mark its entrance, as well as 120 Little Leaf Linden trees elsewhere within the grounds.
This is the only Louis Kahn project in New York City and the last in the architect’s remarkable career that spanned about 50 years and included key work such as the Yale University Art Gallery and the Salk Institute in California.
The Four Freedoms Park is set to become a key city landmark, a highlight in the fields of architecture and education alike. It also offers a brand new 12.5-acre waterfront public space with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.