Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Governors Island Says No Way to Louis Kahn/FDR Memorial! Why Can't Roosevelt Island Residents Do Same?

I have made the suggestion in earlier post that Governor's Island would be a more appropriate venue for the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial than the current proposed site at the southern tip of Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island. From that earlier post:

Maybe supporters of Governor's Island development would like the honor of being the site for the Louis Kahn's memorial. In fact, a memorial based upon FDR's Four Freedom's speech (here is transcript and audio) is far more appropriate at a location facing downtown Manhattan and the World Trade Center/Freedom Tower site than on Roosevelt Island where it is not wanted and detracts from a real, green, waterfront park. A memorial to FDR, who overcame many health difficulties, on Governor's Island would also be a fitting tribute that complements Mayor Bloomberg's International Public Health Center proposal for Governors Island.

Roosevelt Island would be glad to cede the Louis Kahn Memorial to Governor's Island. To paraphrase the great, all knowing and wise Henny Youngman - Take the Louis Kahn memorial ... PLEASE!
Apparently Governors Island does not want the Louis Kahn memorial either.

I attended a recent meeting concerning the NYC waterfront. At the meeting were representatives of waterfront neighborhoods, City planners, public officials and others interested in the future development of NYC's waterfront. I had a conversation with a representative of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) about the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial and asked that person's opinion on whether GIPEC would be interested in including the Kahn memorial in the plans for Governors Island. The response was that there was NO WAY they wanted that thing on Governors Island and that the 1970's concrete and granite design was not appropriate for a modern park.
So I ask again. Why does Roosevelt Island get stuck with the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial for Southpoint Park instead of the Trust for the Public Land's Wild Gardens/Green Rooms plan that is favored by the residents of Roosevelt Island and that retains these fantastic views that will be blocked by the Kahn design?

One of the arguements made in favor ot the Louis Kahn design by its advocates is that some sort of committment or binding obligation had been made by New York State to have it built. However, there is no mention at all of the Louis Kahn design in the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan (GDP) but there is a specific mention of a park at Southpoint. Had there in fact been such a committment for the Kahn memorial it would have been included in the GDP which outlines the approved development of Roosevelt Island. Since the Kahn design is not in the GDP please stop making such arguments.

Image of No Way sign is from Image Chef.
Governors Island image is from GIPEC.
Image of Louis Kahn/FDR memorial is from Architectural Record.

UPDATE: 12/23/ - NY Times article from 12/20/ describing the plan chosen for Governors Island development:
The design, commissioned by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, calls for transforming much of the flat, sober island, which is roughly a half-mile from Lower Manhattan, into green space. That includes a two-mile promenade at the water’s edge, a new park on the southern flat expanse of landfill — where abandoned Coast Guard buildings are to be demolished — and an improved park in the island’s northern historic district. The architects proposed using the detritus from the buildings that are to be destroyed to form hills that would exploit the island’s views, which include the Statue of Liberty.
... one of the architects, said: “We tried to establish different ecological zones with the park. Topography, shoreline, freshwater places for migratory birds to land because they use the Hudson River as their compass.”
Gee, doesn't that sound like the Trust for the Public Land's Wild Gardens/Green Rooms design for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park? I don't see any concrete or granite memorial for Governors Island Park but that is what is planned for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park.


Anonymous said...

There are no residents on Governors Island. GIPEC is a development corporation set up to create some new development on the island. It is more the equivalent of the Empire State Development Corp, which is the successor agency of the Urban Development Corp, which developed Roosevelt Island.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who wouldn't want this park is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

The people that don't want to honor Roosevelt (and have a new and beautiful park as well) would probably rather see an Al Sharpton Memorial. LUZERS!!!!!