15 August 2014

Friday Fotos: Four Freedoms Park

"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb."
 - Franklin D. Roosevelt

I finally made it to the newest plaza by the late architect, Louis I. Kahn. Years after the death of the controversial architect, Four Freedoms Park finally opened on the southern tip of NYC's Roosevelt Island. A glimpse of the lengthy process is captured online by WIRED New York. Vanity Fair published a review that compared the space with other posthumous projects.

Not unlike other plazas Kahn designed, at its heart, Four Freedoms Park is about hardscape space and form. For most, the entry into the space will require climbing a 100 foot wide set of stairs. The climax is the arrival at a stone room that forces the visitor's eyes out onto the water, with high walls blocking the side views of Manhattan and Queens.

At the top of the staircase visitors are treated to a green space lined with double rows of lindens, converging on the final plaza.

Another attempt at a soft touch comes from a row of five copper beeches at the entrance. Unfortunately, one of the most prominent beeches appears to already be severely stressed and likely to die.

Getting in and out of the site currently requires visitors to confront Roosevelt Island's rather creepy past.

Even though a firm was hired to touch up Kahn's original designs and make them ADA compliant, the climactic waterfront section was roped off, preventing the public from what seemed like the intended ultimate viewing experience of the park. When I asked the security guard, he said that since the section was only accessible by steps it was not ADA compliant and had to be closed to everyone. I'll trust that there is more to this story than his simple explanation, but can not find anything online that is helpful.

BTW, if you haven't seen the documentary, My Architect, made by Kahn's son, you should check it out.

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