Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.



United States

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

In 1974, Lawrence Halprin was selected by the FDR Memorial Commission to design the 7.5-acre site adjacent to the Cherry Tree Walk on the western edge of the Tidal Basin. Halprin created a new sort of memorial, a sequence of four galleries or garden rooms, crafted in a narrative sequence to tell the story of the U.S. during the four terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. The memorial’s rooms and water features, built primarily of red South Dakota granite, use stone to express the fracture and upheaval of the times. Water, in the form of cascades, waterfalls, and pools, is a metaphorical component of the palette, with the volume and complexity escalating as the narrative progresses. The memorial also incorporates ten bronze sculptures and 21 carved inscriptions, quotations from FDR’s speeches and radio talks. The sculptures, by Leonard Baskin, Neil Estern, Robert Graham, Thomas Hardy, and George Segal, depict images from the Depression and World War II, including a breadline and a man listening to a Fireside Chat on his radio. After complaints from the National Organization on Disability, a statue of the president seated in his wheelchair was incorporated into the memorial, the nation’s first memorial designed to be wheelchair accessible. The memorial was dedicated by President Clinton on May 2, 1997. In Halprin’s New York Times obituary, the FDR Memorial was described as Halprin’s favorite project.

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