Thursday17 August 2017

Kahn’s vision of freedom lives on

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Nearly 40 years after his death, the newly completed Four Freedoms Park accurately reflects its architect’s design

Ellis Woodman

Ellis Woodman- Executive Editor

Thirty-nine years after Louis I Kahn’s death, his Four Freedoms Park in New York joins a select band of projects designed by celebrated architects but realised posthumously.

Some, like Miralles Tagliabue’s Scottish Parliament or Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, represented cases in which the architect died mid-job, requiring colla-borators to interpret their intentions.

More controversial are those revived long after the architect’s death. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s House for An Art Lover, for example, was an unsuccessful 1901 competition entry until realised in Glasgow 95 years later, while in 2006 Le Corbusier’s church at Firminy was completed with a very different interior.

Thankfully, the Four Freedoms Park was designed to the point where little conjecture was required. Uplighting has been introduced, trees set on a wider grid and the footpath surface changed to reflect disabled-access requirements, but in its essential details this is Kahn’s design. For once, one can say with conviction that the original architect would wholeheartedly approve.


Readers' comments (1)

  • harriet harriss

    Great news for NYC, particularly because the park sits in psychologically and physically neutral territory of the East river, between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The site also affords excellent views of Corbusier's contribution to humankind, the UN building. The 'Four Freedoms' is from a speech given by President Roosevelt at the end of the last great depression in the US. A very apt time to be revisiting these themes, given the current economic circumstances.

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