Louis Kahn's last design opens this month
The plans for an FDR memorial he was carrying when he died are completed four decades after the commission
New York's newest memorial, The Four Freedoms Park, on Roosevelt Island in the East River, might stand as a testament the life and work of Franklin D. Roosevelt, yet it also effectively commemorates the work of Louis Kahn, the brilliant American architect, who died in 1974. Despite many accolades, Kahn was deeply in debt when he passed away, in the public lavatories of New York's Penn Station, following a fatal heart attack.
When this four-acre triangular plot opens on October 24, it will mark the physical completion of the very hand-drawn designs that was in his briefcase when he passed away.
Four Freedoms Park - named after Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, wherein the president outlined four basic freedoms everyone in the world should possess - is Kahn's only building in New York. Nevertheless, it retains the simple, yet bold geometry of the architect's better-known works, such as California's Salk Institute and the National Parliament of Bangladesh.
The Four-acre triangular plot is lined with linden trees, and finished at the water's edge by an empty space enclosed by three granite walls - 'The Room', as Kahn dubbed it. The New York Times' Michael Kimmelman, in his review of the park, wrote that from the granite room "a visitor looks out over the city and the churning waters of the East River in the direction of the Statue of Liberty, the ocean and Europe. It is the long view that Roosevelt had for America."
Anyone wanting to share that view, and both FDR and Kahn's visions, can take a trip there from the end of the month. If you can't make it anytime soon you really should consider our brilliant monograph on Kahn worth over 350 points when you join Phaidon Club.