Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Obstacles for Kahn/FDR Memorial - May be Security Problem for United Nations and Danger to Fish!

Image of United Nations viewed from Southpoint Park Roosevelt Island from Natasha

Image of Striped Bass caught and released in the East River from

The Louis Kahn/FDR memorial proposed for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park may have another obstacle to overcome. Besides the:
  1. opposition of Roosevelt Island residents who do not want the existing beautiful, jaw dropping, one-of -a-kind panoramic views of East River Waterfront/NYC Skyline forever ruined by the Kahn design,
  2. desire of community for a true waterfront park at Southpoint,
  3. 35 year failure to raise the $40 million estimated to build the Kahn/FDR memorial through private funds,
  4. New York State and City budget crisis which makes it obscene for elected officials in favor of Kahn design to provide the $20 million in taxpayer funds now sought by Kahn supporters when there are much more pressing needs.
  5. resignation of Governor Spitzer, a key supporter who revived project from its deathbed,
  6. alleged binding 1974 committment by State of New York to the Kahn/FDR memorial may not be valid due to State and City failure to fulfill prior condition by each making $2 million payment and
  7. security concerns (Main Street Wire PDF File) that the Kahn/FDR memorial box enclosed on two sides with high walls may be a danger and threat to the United Nations.
We now learn that the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing waterfront projects to determine if new structures will be casting shadows on the water damaging to marine life. The April 8, NY Observer reports that:
A clash between state environmental regulators and multiple government agencies threatens several planned waterfront projects in the city, including portions of Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s West Side, the East River Waterfront and the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park set to rise on Brooklyn’s once industrial shore.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is pushing back against sections of all three projects, particularly because of the shadows that structures like floating walkways and a heliport would cast on the water. Led by Commissioner Pete Grannis, the D.E.C. has determined that shade from the new construction could damage marine life below, and, in many cases, violates the law.
The Kahn/FDR memorial's 465 feet of tall trees enveloping both the east and west sides of Southpoint Park's waterfront together with what one resident dubbed "The Kahn Death Box" room at the edge of the Island's southern tip will certainly cast shadows on the water possibly damaging East River marine life. Hopefully, another nail in the coffin of this outdated and ill-suited project.

Below are images of the Kahn/FDR memorial. We now know that it was designed from the outset with the intent to cut off and block the existing NYC skyline and waterfront views from almost all of Southpoint Park's southern section except for the very tiny tip at the end of the Island. Describing the Kahn/FDR memorial, Robert McCarter, a Kahn admirer and author of Louis I. Kahn which has been described as the authoritative text and definitive monograph on the architect Kahn's work writes:
It is in this forecourt that we are given our first- and last- view of the midtown New York Skyline to the west, previously blocked by the trees of the garden, and to be blocked again by the walls of the Memorial room.

Image from NY Times

Image from Architectural Record

Click here to see the magnificent waterfront and skyline views that will forever be lost if the Kahn/FDR memorial is built.

Here is a You Tube video with a 360 degree view from Southpoint Park.

The Kahn/FDR memorial must be stopped.

The March 29 Main Street Wire has extensive coverage of the Kahn/FDR memorial Town Hall meeting where many of these issues were discussed and Press HD has video of the event.