Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Last Night's CPB 8 Meeting - Trust Kahn or Kahn Go Home?

Nothing much got settled at last night's Community Planning Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee meeting on Southpoint Park and the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial. It was an opportunity for the proponents and opponents of the project to express their positions to members of the Community Board which is a very good thing. For the most part, the Community Board members were not aware of the issues or history of the project but were very interested in learning which is also a good thing. None of the other item agendas such as the future of Coler- Goldwater hospital or Roosevelt Island transportation issues were discussed since the entire 2 plus hours were spent on the Kahn project.

What is clear from last night event is that this is about the Louis Kahn Memorial not a Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial.

Advocates of the project made the following points:

  1. detailed what a great President FDR was,
  2. how the Kahn design is an architectural masterpiece,
  3. claimed that Roosevelt Island residents and users of Southpoint Park have no greater say over the ultimate fate of the Park than the rest of the world and
  4. those who oppose the Kahn design do not understand it and are not qualified to judge it unless they are architects.
In the words of one advocate for the design "Trust Kahn".

Opponents of the Kahn design:
  1. admire FDR as much as anyone but do not think the Kahn design honors FDR but rather honors Kahn,
  2. do not want the current views destroyed by the Kahn design (the proponents deny this will occur),
  3. want a real waterfront park to play and relax in not a solemn memorial more suited for the National Mall in Washington DC
  4. state that Roosevelt Island residents and users of Southpoint Park do have a greater say in the outcome since we will have to live with the ultimate decision on the fate of Southpoint Park on a daily basis unlike others who may visit once in their life and funds earmarked from Roosevelt Island are being used to pay for the park.
  5. object to the claim that only architects can judge the Kahn design as an example of elitist snobbery at it's very worst.
Roosevelt Island 360 has an excellent summary of the evening as well as some additional images of the Kahn design.

There will be a Roosevelt Island Town Hall meeting on this sometime is February or March.

Image of Louis Kahn from Design 20.


Anonymous said...

That park would be a travesty. They should just work with what is already there; the hospital ruins, the hillside, and the open grounds to make a great lawn park.


thanks for your comment.
If you feel the Kahn Memorial would be a "travesty" as do I, please talk to your friends and neighbors, write a letter or email to politicians such as Spitzer, Bloomberg, Maloney, Stringer Lappin, Kellner and Serrano and attend the next Town Hall meeting on subject.Decisions are made by those people who show up.

Anonymous said...

That "hillside" you speak of was made exactly for the reason this is being discussed. It was the result of the first attempt at building this memorial.

Anonymous said...

Re the "hillside," it is indeed the result of the first attempt to build the memorial back in the 1970s-80s. This article has more detail:


Thank you both for your contribution but please explain why the reason for the "hillside" being built is at all relevant to issue of whether this mausoleum like structure is appropriate for the Roosevelt Island community as it now exists in the year 2008 with 12000 residents and more to come? Remember, this is a residential neighborhood not the national mall in DC. Over 20% of what could be a real 13 acre waterfront park will be taken over by the Kahn project.

Anonymous said...

my view is that spitzer is pushing this for the same reason he is yakking on about naming the triboro bridge for RFK.
as far as i can see, he must be currying favor with some democratic machine moneybags for a white house run some day.

man was a great AG; sucks wind as a guv. joke will be on us, as he won't ever get past a pres primary, but we'll have an ugly lump of sh*t on southpoint.

Anonymous said...

Rarely has there been a design for a memorial that is more suited to its context and the rememberance of a great leader.

Given its quiet nature and sense of history, I doubt few great architects of the day could equal Kahn's intentions.

Anonymous said...

'and the rememberance of a great leader.'

you talkin bout fdr, or kahn?
really, next you folks will be insisting the sistine chapel be redone with kahn's face plastered over god's...