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Times Critic Calls FDR Memorial 'New Spiritual Heart' for NYC

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New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman really likes Louis Kahn's FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. He praises the 4-acre memorial, calling it "a belated and monumental triumph for New York and for everyone who cares about architecture and public space." He says the boxy "room" at the tip of the park is a "stroke of genius" because the 36-ton granite blocks are spaced one inch apart to let light shine through and create a heightened awareness in the viewer. He really doesn't hold back:

It gives New York nothing less than a new spiritual heart. That's to say it creates an exalted, austere public space, at once like the prow of a ship and a retreat for meditation. It's a memorial, perhaps naïvely optimistic but uplifting and confident, unlike the one at ground zero. It is as solemn as the Roosevelt wartime speech it honors, a call to safeguard the freedoms of speech and worship and the freedoms from want and fear. Kimmelman does note, though, that preserving this pristine space against graffiti artists and skateboarders will be a challenge considering the freedom thing. He also says that Cornell's Applied Science campus, "soulless, rigid and without thoughtful public space," is not nearly good enough to be on the same island as this memorial.

The memorial will open on October 24.
· Decades Later, A Vision Survives [NYT]
· Four Freedoms Park coverage [Curbed]
Photo by Amiaga Photographers, Inc. via

Four Freedoms Park

Roosevelt Island, E Rd., New York, NY