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Monday, October 8, 2012

Roosevelt Island Kahn FDR Memorial October 17 Dedication May Be Delayed By Donor Reed Rubin Lawsuit Over Engraving Spot


The NY Daily News is reporting that the October 17 dedication of the FDR Four Freedom Park (also known as the Kahn Memorial Boondoggle) located at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island may be delayed due to a dispute with a donor. According to the NY Daily News:
The upcoming dedication of a new park monument to Franklin Delano Roosevelt has hit a snag — thanks to a last-minute decision by organizers not to engrave the name of one donor in a prominent spot.

Businessman Reed Rubin has gone to Manhattan Supreme Court asking the court to order FDR Four Freedoms Park sponsors to install the engraving immediately, or delay the Oct. 17 dedication ceremony....
and:
... The sponsors were bowing to heavy pressure from relatives of the park's designer, the late architect Louis Kahn, who feel the engraving will mar the beauty of the site.

"All of the major donors could argue contractual obligations regarding naming; only the Rubins have chosen to enforce their contract, which everyone acknowledges will defile Kahn's great work," vanden Heuvel wrote in an email, which is included in court papers....
Click here for the entire NY Daily News article.

Last June, I took a tour of the site while it was still under construction. Here's what it looked like then.





and this video from Architectural Record shows the so-called FDR Four Freedoms Park is really intended to be a memorial to the architect Louis Kahn rather than President Franklin D Roosevelt.





Captain James T Kirk, The Joker and George Costanza sum up the frustration of many at what has been built at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island.


You Tube Video of Ode To Khan

Meanwhile, the FDR Hope Memorial sculpture, also to be located at Southpoint Park (just north of the Kahn Boondoggle), depicting President Roosevelt sitting in a wheelchair greeting a young girl in crutches is moving forward.

UPDATE 3:45 PM - Click here (and follow instructions) for the court filings in this case - Reed Foundation Inc v Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park LLC, (Index # 653482-2012)

UPDATE 5:40 PM - FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy Press Spokesperson adds:
We are disappointed that litigation was filed. Discussions with the Reed Foundation are continuing, and we are confident a resolution will be reached.
UPDATE 10/13 - Another Kahn/FDR Memorial donor is suing the project sponsors over the failure to engrave an inscription as contractually agreed and wants the October 17 dedication ceremony delayed unless the donor is properly recognized. According the the NY Daily News:
... a philanthropist who donated nearly $11 million to a park honoring President Franklin D. Roosevelt says he’s getting a raw deal.

Alphawood Foundation chairman Fred Eychaner charges developers at the FDR Four Freedoms Park reneged on their promise of a prominent public display acknowledging his generosity....
Click here for the entire NY Daily News article.

Click here (and follow instructions) for the court filings in this case - Alphawood Foundation v Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park LLC, 9 Index (653564-2012)

UPDATE 10/16 3:45 PM -  A spokesperson for Alphawood Foundation Chicago said:
We are pleased to have resolved this matter and look forward to the dedication of this wonderful monument to a great President.
More to come.

16 comments :

Mark Lyon said...

Wow. They were happy to take the money, but not willing to honor the terms by installing what appears to be a rather inconspicuous inscription. Hope they've got all the funds they will ever need - I can't imagine it will be easy for these people to fundraise again.

CheshireKitty said...

This is like Schwarzman having his name engraved 5 times into the facade of the Main Library branch at 42nd St. - a move that was universally decried as tasteless no matter how much money he gave to the library and no matter how "low-key" or "discreet" the engraving. The smart thing for Rubin to do would be to refrain from the engraved acknowledgment of his donation, like the other donors have done. I can't imagine the Lincoln Memorial engraved with the names of donors - can you? I think people would flip if a name of a private donor were inscribed on monuments such as the Statue of Liberty, the Vietnam Memorial in DC, or on our own Twin Towers memorial - that would be "privatization" going way too far...

Mark Lyon said...

The solution is simple, though. If you don't want to acknowledge private donors, either don't accept private donors or don't promise - in contracts or otherwise - to recognize them in a way which you don't intend to honor. Expecting the donors to later bend to your will once the money is spent is a great way to get sued.

rilander said...

If I remember my college philosophy course correctly, Immanuel Kant called it the "categorical imperative" which meant that people do good deeds only if they get something out of it, which could be anything from feeling good about the deed all the way to getting fame and public recognition.

CheshireKitty said...

The Foundation should probably return the money to Mr. Rubin and be rid of this annoying and unseemly lawsuit. The Memorial is now completed. If the Foundation needs to raise money in order to return Mr. Rubin's donation, I'd be happy to contribute. The lawsuit is not going to earn Mr. Rubin any "brownie points" in the world of philanthropy/society in which he probably is craving acceptance and "appreciation".

westviewgirl said...

so is the opening of FDR 4 freedom being delayed still? So where is the animal sanctuary going to be at the new park? My neice wants to come see and feed the ducks and seals that live down there. She is excited about a new park for the island and seeing what all they have put down there for the island people and the children that live here.

Westviewer said...

Is this how the "philanthropists" want to be remembered -- as obstructionists to the opening of the memorial?

deetelecare said...

@Mark, I always thought it resembled a bunker rather than a sniper's nest....but then I thought the money should go to FDR's museum and library in Hyde Park. (Which is now cross-promoting the site)


The AR and RI walking tours videos show it as the pitiful thing it is--the views are as blocked as I thought they would be on the plans, and all those white walls and blocks of stone are great canvases for graffiti. The site itself is 1960s monumentalism at its worst.

Engraving the donors' names, tastefully, wouldn't mean one thing or another. And if it's in the agreements, the sponsors HAVE to honor what they promised for $11 million! The sponsors certainly didn't balk at agreeing when they were rushing about with their tin cup.....Sorry to all of those who think that the donors should be ashamed of insisting! In fact, I am pleased to see that philanthropy is named; it is not 'unseemly' to me.

@WestviewGirl, ROTFL!!! Quite funny! You will be waiting a long time for any 'animal sanctuary' down there. What ducks (other than Canadian Geese who will poop all over the patch of lawn)? What seals? Won't be seeing them over those high white walls unless your niece hangs over them with binoculars.

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Mark Lyon said...

"The Appellate Division, First Department, ordered the park's developer, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park LLC, to put the inscription honoring The Reed Foundation's contribution near a bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the four-acre park. ...'(T)he public interest in enforcing donor recognition agreements outweighs the shifting aesthetic concerns...'" http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2013/05_-_May/Aesthetics_can_t_trump_contract_in_park_feud/