Roosevelt Island's Four Freedoms Park will finally be celebrating its grand opening this October! The momentous event will take place almost 40 years after the space was designed by architectural visionary Louis I. Kahn to commemorate president Franklin D. Roosevelt for whom the island is named. The elegant green space will be located on the southern tip of the landmass and will honor the 32nd U.S. President and the four essential freedoms he believed in: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
In 1973, legendary architect Louis I. Kahn was commissioned by Governor Nelson Rockefeller and NYC Mayor John Lindsay to design the memorial space for FDR. Kahn finished the design just a year later, when he unfortunately passed away from a heart attack. After his death, the project was put on hold due to New York City’s approaching bankruptcy, but commenced again 36 years later on March 29, 2010.
Inspired by FDR’s belief that peaceful discussion is the solution to conflicts, Kahn created the ‘Room’ – a 72-foot square plaza placed at the very end of the park designed for peaceful contemplation. Quotes taken from FDR’s Four Freedoms speech are engraved on the granite walls of the Room as well as other sites throughout the park.
Placed at ‘the entrance’ of the Room is a giant bronze head of FDR modeled by the great American portrait sculptor which will be visible from entire granite-paved promenade leading up to it. The triangular shape was important to Kahn, and draws the visitor’s attention to the bronze head.
Awareness of FDR’s love of the sea also lent Kahn inspiration from structures and lines used in naval architecture such as the park’s prow like ending. Visitors will be able to enjoy a beautiful monumental park lined by large shade trees separated by a vast garden, and a rewarding view and meditative space at the end.