Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, New York

An aerial view of the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York
An aerial view of the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York
(Image credit: Amiaga)

The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt (opens in new tab), set out four goals in his famous 1941 State of the Union address (opens in new tab): freedom of speech and expression; freedom of worship; freedom from want; freedom from fear. The Four Freedoms Park (opens in new tab) - a spatial celebration of and memorial for what is commonly known as Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech (opens in new tab) - 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab).

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 (opens in new tab) and the Salk Institute (opens in new tab) 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.

The park sits on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in the East River of New York City

The park sits on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in the East River of New York City

(Image credit: Amiaga)

The Four Freedoms Park is a spatial celebration of and memorial for what is commonly known as the Four Freedoms speech...

The Four Freedoms Park is a spatial celebration of and memorial for what is commonly known as the Four Freedoms speech...

(Image credit: Amiaga)

... which the 32nd President of the United States Franklin D Roosevelt delivered in his famous 1941 State of the Union address.

... which the 32nd President of the United States Franklin D Roosevelt delivered in his famous 1941 State of the Union address. Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

(Image credit: Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)

The park is finally about to open, almost 40 years after it was originally conceived.

The park is finally about to open, almost 40 years after it was originally conceived

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

Pictured here, is one of Kahn's sketches of the park.

It was designed by American architect Louis Kahn in 1973. Pictured here, is one of Kahn's sketches of the park. Courtesy: Louis I. Kahn Collection, University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

(Image credit: Louis Kahn )

The focal point of the strikingly geometrical, triangular park is at its very tip...

The focal point of the strikingly geometrical, triangular park is at its very tip...

(Image credit: Amiaga)

... where visitors will find the 1,050-pound bronze bust of President Roosevelt created by artist Jo Davidson.

... where visitors will find the 1,050-pound bronze bust of President Roosevelt created by artist Jo Davidson.

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

It also includes a square granite area that Kahn called the 'Room'

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

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

True to the architect's vision, the stone used was the same one that Kahn specified in 1973

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)

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

The beautifully landscaped park also features five Copper Beech trees

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.

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

The park offers a brand new 12.5-acre waterfront public space with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.

The park offers a brand new 12.5-acre waterfront public space with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

An inscription from Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech

An inscription from Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech. 

(Image credit: Paul Warchol)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).