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MAS Board Members Tour Four Freedoms Park

MAS at Four Freedoms Park, New York

On July 28, MAS board members took the tram to Roosevelt Island for a tour of the future Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms, with Sally Minard and Gina Pollara, the park’s president and executive director, respectively. The park was architect Louis Kahn’s last project. In fact, Kahn was carrying the drawings with him when he died in 1974, a year after Welfare Island had been renamed in FDR’s honor.

The park is named after the four essential freedoms FDR spoke of in his 1941 State of the Union address: the freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear. These Four Freedoms will be carved in granite in the park and referenced more abstractly in the design. The project consists of a triangular “Garden” of lawn, walkways and trees presently under construction and the “Room,” the tour’s destination.

Board members explored the “Room,” a 72-foot square walled plaza, with an eye to Kahn’s use of materials and his telling details. They peered through the narrow separations between the 36-ton blocks of pale granite that comprise the walls, observing the way the polished inner surfaces reflected water and sky.

The “Room” is open to the sky, but frames a vista that would have held, as a 1973 New York Times editorial pointed out, great significance for President Roosevelt. The view encompasses the United Nations he supported, the river and the harbor he loved and—just beyond the Narrows—the Atlantic Ocean that he saw as a unifier of the Western World.

Four Freedoms Park is set to open in the fall of 2012.