With a total size of 56.656 m2, the Memorial is situated at the conclusion of Southpoint Park’s new garden area. The Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is situated on a triangle-shaped tract of land at the southernmost point of Roosevelt Island, on the East River, between Manhattan and Queens, in the American city of New York. It takes up 16.187 square meters of this space. The closest United Nations building is to the south, while the Queensboro Bridge, which spans the river, is to the north.

Previously known as Blackwell’s Island and subsequently Welfare Island, these locations saw the rise of mad asylums and jails until hospitals for UN personnel were erected there. The Smallpox Hospital, also known as Renwick Ruin to honour the architect James Renwich Jr. and constructed between 1854 and 1856, is one of the most significant ruins. Near the entrance to the Roosevelt Memorial, this GothicRenaissance ruin with a gneiss facade has not yet been rebuilt by local authorities. The island didn’t get its first tram or subway until the middle of the 1970s.

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, New York - Sheet1
Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park_©https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/archive/louis-kahns-roosevelt-memorial-park-in-new-york-finally-set-to-open

Design of the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, New York

Kahn stated the following in a 1973 talk at the Pratt Institute: Simply said, in my opinion, a monument should consist of a chamber and a garden. Why a garden and a room? The garden is, in some ways, of a personal character, its own method of regulating nature, thus he picked this as a beginning point. And the architectural principle is found in the room.

According to architect Gina Pollara, executive director of park construction, Kahn was using perspective and geometry, somewhat like the ancient Egyptians. Whether you’re in the green zone or slanting the road, visual pathways always go straight to the brain. The plan is flawless mathematically.

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, New York - Sheet2
Kahn’s use of perspective and geometry_©https://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/franklin-d-roosevelt-four-freedoms-park.html

This military-like precision in its construction serves as a metaphor for Roosevelt’s position as commander-in-chief during World War II and his commitment to social concerns during the Great Depression. The monument itself is a condensed rendition of the Greek temple made of stone that serves as the finale. This lovely public area serves as both a refuge for meditation and the prow of a boat looking toward the United Nations headquarters.

Kahn’s desarrollo design makes excellent use of the park facilities’ triangular form to highlight her. He also used what may be described as “forced perspective” to direct the viewer’s attention to the Roosevelt head on the “living” threshold. A maritime influence may be seen in the design, possibly a gesture to Roosevelt’s affinity for and connection to the sea and making use of the building’s prime position. As is customary in naval architecture, the park’s design is symmetrical, and the plans are created so that they may be developed from a central line.

View from the Roosevelt park_©https://www.frommers.com/destinations/new-york-city/attractions/franklin-d-roosevelt-four-freedoms-park
View from the Roosevelt park_©https://www.frommers.com/destinations/new-york-city/attractions/franklin-d-roosevelt-four-freedoms-park

The monument features 120 small-leaved lime and beech trees planted on its 16,184 m2 of land. Along with planter 5, there are some initial steps that lead to a sweeping staircase that is positioned in the middle of two ramps, elevating the platform a few feet above the ground and continuing, with a nod, up to the bronze bust of President Roosevelt and to the main Monument. The president’s remarks from his “The Four Freedoms” address, delivered on January 6, 1941, 11 months before the assault on Pearl Harbor, are inscribed on a granite wall behind the bust.

The placement of granite blocks, laying, chopped, or standing, always beginning from the same pattern, starts at the lower side aisles of the raised garden along the river. The pattern is 128x128x365 cm. The names of everyone who donated and made the park’s creation possible are inscribed on a laying block. Granite cobblestones lined the street.

Freedom park_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/wsifrancis/17068745269/
Freedom park_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/wsifrancis/17068745269/

When approaching from the north side and at the foot of the steps, a wide area of greenery with a double row of trees that serve as the park’s main feature, “room,” becomes visible. Jo Davidson sculpted the granite bust of Roosevelt in this room in 1933. The Memorial’s exquisite outdoor areas lead to a 3,600m2 square known as “the chamber.”

The words of the speech Roosevelt gave are inscribed on one of the 36 tonnes of stones that make up “the chamber,” which is located behind the bust, which serves as the monument’s centerpiece. The name Kahn gave to this area, which has buildings on three sides and an open sky above it.

a wide area of greenery with a double row of trees_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/76807015@N03/14048185069/
a wide area of greenery with a double row of trees_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/76807015@N03/14048185069/

The perfectly polished blocks keep a 2.5 cm gap open between them, enabling light and debris to enter while creating a place that promotes meditation and offers an unimpeded view of the East River, the UN building practically in front of it, and the full skyline of New York from the riverside.

Materials/ Construction

The granite for the Monument was shipped by boat from Mount Airy, North Carolina. We employed 190 granite blocks, 70 of which are monumental in size and weight, such as “the living,” which measures 128 by 128 by 365 cm and weighs 36tn apiece. Depending on the location, some of the granite blocks were divided into two or three pieces, always following the same pattern. Steel components were attached to the dirt blocks. Kahn positioned two rows of 120 small-leaved lime trees going to the monument and flanking a grassy triangular area as a contrast to the abrasive ways of granite. He also placed five beech trees at the monument’s entry. There is gravel and marble in the pathways that surround the park.

Granite blocks_©https://www.dezeen.com/2013/01/25/four-freedoms-park-by-louis-kahn/
Granite blocks_©https://www.dezeen.com/2013/01/25/four-freedoms-park-by-louis-kahn/

With the exception of the area occupied by “room,” 261,000 cobblestones and recessed lighting were manually laid throughout the park. At the end of the monument, the passing hands of the access stairs are made of curved steel tubing and steel steps.

The building of the park took 30 months, with the first phase, “the Chamber,” taking 16 months to finish. Due to the magnitude of its components and the very challenging alterations that had to be made to the stone placement after the initial project, FDR Four Freedoms Park is generally regarded as the most professional and heavy stone work in the city of New York.

Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, New York - Sheet7
Franklin Delano Roosevelt_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/76807015@N03/10918916144/

President Roosevelt’s remarks were manually inscribed on granite by third-generation stonemason Nicholas Benson. Benson, the proprietor of The John Stevens Shop in Newport, is renowned for his masterful hand-lettered carvings. His ornate inscriptions, reliefs, and memorials to Dr. Martin Luther King and Yale University may be seen around the US.

The “breakwater,” a rock barrier that guards the border of the island of erosion, is made of 8,500 cubic meters of gneiss granite that was manually positioned and of which 65% was recycled in the same location. “The Room” is supported by a mix of stone foundations and drawers.


While planning, promenade facilities must take comfort into account. Wherever they feel at peace, they choose to stroll; if not, they choose to go somewhere else. The pavement makes the place more friendly to walk and stir around as it creates a large scale of grooves and feels good with regular footwear. It also helps in lessening the walkability during winter months.

Pavements make the place more friendly to walk_©https://www.flickr.com/photos/76807015@N03/14837976388/

The monument has a plantation of 120 trees, creating a soothing texture to the world of concrete around it. It also helps in creating a much cooler and human-friendly microclimate.


1.Rosenfield, K. (2012). Kahn’s FDR Four Freedoms Park Opens in NYC! [online] ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/285512/kahns-four-freedoms-park-opens-tomorrow 

2.Freeman, B. (2012). Past Perfect: Four Freedoms Park. Places Journal, (2012). doi:10.22269/121105.

3.www.lord.ca. (n.d.). Four Freedoms Park Conservancy. [online] Available at: https://www.lord.ca/projects/project-experience/four-freedoms-park-conservancy.


Kukil is a fourth-year architecture student who enjoys reading and is interested in design, history, and world affairs.She is a firm believer of the philosophy "form follows function," and she frequently expresses her skill sets in developing creative ideas.