A Feng Shui tour of the FDR Four Freedoms Park in NYC with master RD Chin
Visit of the FDR Four Freedoms Park, New York
from a Feng Shui Perspective with Master RD Chin
Friday, October 18, 2013
(from left to right)
With sincere thanks to John Conaty, architect
who gave us the guided tour of the park
and to Gina Pollara, executive director of the FDR FFP,
who helped create this special event.
Summary of Comments
The park is designed as a
symmetrical plan, leading us to
the bust of FDR and creating a
forced perspective (1-point
perspective in 3 dimensions).
The five beech trees (could be
interpreted as the Five Elements) positioned between the ruins and the
monumental stairs leading to the park represent a buffer between the very “yin”
or “dead” building energy balancing the trees which represent uprising and
“alive” life force “yang” wood energy.
The four spaces between the trees represent the Four Freedoms.
Based on the Five Element theory, the stairs symbolize “Water feeding the
Wood” trees. RD, who worked with the late master architect, Paul Rudolph,
mentioned that Rudolph always considered that “stairs are like water gently
falling along the slope”.
The whole structure is very flat and horizontal and connected to the Earth ch'i;
the trees are vertically connecting to the Heaven ch'i. The universal Trinity is
completed by the visitors symbolizing Human ch’i.
This is the harmonious connection of “Heaven, Humanity and Earth”.
Interestingly, Paul Goldberger, architectural critic for Vanity Fair, mentioned
that the structure represents the “past, the present and the future”. And
someone mentioned the connection of the past (ruins), the present (FDR and
the Four Freedoms) and the future (the United Nations).
The granite chosen, from Mount Airy North Carolina, has the lightest color from
the other stone samples and its honed finish has an overall satin-feel and
smoothness. In sunlight, the reflection is very luminous and expansive; in rainy
weather, the room looks and feels like a black and white photograph as
experienced by John during his many visits.
Interestingly, from a feng shui perspective:
The park was constructed from the tip of the island towards the ruins;
following the chi flow of the East River....very similar to the construction of the
Louvre museum in Paris where its additions followed the flow of the Seine River.
The natural chi energy of the river is so powerful that its strong currents affect
the direction of the building of these monumental structures.
Aerial view of the United Nations, the East River and Roosevelt Island
Placing The Ba-Gua And The Establishing The Mouth Of Ch'i
The Ba-Gua is one of the many feng
shui design tools where one can
interpret various qualities of our
life. It can be placed over a room, a
building, a neighborhood and it can
even be placed over the island of
Manhattan or Roosevelt Island!
Ba means the number“8” in Chinese
Gua represents the trigram or the 3
lines - a combination of solid and
broken lines - from the I-Ching, which
is the Chinese “Book of Changes”.
Placing the bagua over Manhattan
• RD : placed from the East Rising Sun, Roosevelt Island is located in the
“career” gua; the financial district is then in the “family” area.
• RD : placed from New Jersey, Roosevelt Island is in the “fame and
reputation” gua, with the tip and the sacred room located energetically in
the “marriage/relationship/commitment” gua.
• Manu : placed from the financial district, Roosevelt Island is in the “helpful
people / travel” gua.
• and Placed from the Statue of Liberty, Roosevelt Island is in the “children /
creativity / future” gua.
Placing the ba-gua over Roosevelt Island
• both Heather and John : the majority of visitors come from Manhattan by
tram or the F train stop; by placing the ba-gua from this direction, the park
encompasses all three areas: the “marriage/relationship/commitment “gua ,
the “children and the future” gua, and the “helpful people/travel” gua.
Placing the ba-gua over the park itself
• Kyle : as people are entering the park, at the stairs; the tip and the sacred
room are then in the “fame and reputation” gua.
• Billie and Leticia : placed from the tip, the room is in the “career” gua and
the five beech trees are in the “fame and reputation” gua; from this direction
and applying the Five Elements = Wood is now feeding the Fire = a very
constructive or nurturing cycle of energy. Fire is also represented by the
• Leticia : felt the main ch'i was heavenly because it entered into the room
from the sky and the universe, supported by earth ch'i (the granite itself and
the strong structure) and nurtured by human ch'i (visitors).
• Joyce and Michelle : also felt this way
• Billie : ultimately, it doesn't really matter where we place the ba-gua, since
the island encompasses all viewpoints.
•RD reminds us part of Professor
Lin Yun's teachings about how we
are like the blind man trying to
define the elephant.
The ba-gua is simply a profound
tool to give us different insights
for any situation.
Defining the “Yin & Yang” aspects and
Evaluating the park according to the Five Elements
• Hard granite (yang) / soft grass and delicate linden trees (yin)
• Matte granite (yin) / shiny (yang) and glowing aspect thanks to the sun
(also, the polished 1 inch space between the granite slabs)
• In the quiet, peaceful and meditative sacred “room” (yin), the massive
structure has a very open and light feeling (yang) due to the polished 1 inch
slit which allows the light to pour into the “room”. It feels like a modern day
Stonehenge depending on the hour of the day.
• The park represents a perfect balance of the Five Elements :
oFire : the plan of the trees is designed as a triangle or “fire”
shape; the linden trees also have a pointed triangular look.
oEarth : the structure is flat and built with granite. View of
the grass towards the ruins from the FDR bust is rectangular
or “earth” shape.
oMetal : the overall color of the park is white (associated
with Metal) as is the light color of the granite paving and
oWater : the park is surrounded by water, the staircase also
represents the water element.
oWood : the columnar structure of the room; the uprising trunks
of the beech and linden trees. It is
interesting to note that the linden
trees were carefully chosen and
selected for this site: they have the
ability to change color during each
season expressing their ever
Comments From Participants
• Billie: “it reminds us that the ancient Greeks regarded architecture as the highest
art form, combining mathematics and beauty. Also, Einstein said everything is
• RD : “when we visited 246 East 58th Street which was designed by the late master
architect, Paul Rudolph, he considered architecture to be “frozen music”. The
design of this park is like a symphony of shapes and rhythms.
• Kyle : “Roosevelt is like a Jesus figure, taking all the negative chi energy and
transmuting everything into positive chi; the park allows for a transformative
experience, almost like a sacred labyrinth.”
• RD : “the room represents a transcendental space; from the material world to pure
white energy; it's an incredible ch'i transfusion!”
• John : “the park takes your breath away twice: 1. walking up the stairs and looking
towards the expansive lawn and trees and then 2. just being present in the “room”
looking at the engraving of the Four Freedoms.”
• John : “Louis Kahn called the room an “insight”.”
• Leticia : “the shape of the park, converging, like a funnel, to the figure of FDR is
almost like a womb; and the room is where we are (re)born; similarly to the
Mexican expression of giving birth : Giving into the light “dar a luz”.
• Billie : “it is also like a tunnel towards death and the white light.”
• RD : “the tip is the ultimate combination of “yin and yang” balance with its intimate
feel of the sanctuary of a cathedral combined with an expansive feel and openness
towards the water and the heavens.”
There is no right or wrong way of positioning the Ba-Gua; all interpretations are
interesting perspectives of this beautiful park. The impression of simplicity and
minimalism of the park allows for a complex
experience of the senses, of the heart and of the
John shared his personal experiences and responsibilities as the
on-site architect was to be in charge of quality control during
construction i.e. rejecting granite pieces with salad oil,
observing the 1/8'' tolerance for the sizes of the granite slabs,
the spaces created with polished surfaces, and the alignment of
the two aisles of 60 trees to appear as one tree on each side of
the granite block with FDR’s inscription are just some of the
stories that make the park seem even more alive with Louis
Kahn’s chi energy! His rigorous adherence to the integrity of
the design concept and details make John, a very “helpful
person” working as part of a visionary team of people who all
became the protectors and guardians of Mr. Kahn's vision and
the park's grandeur.
participant of this tour
had an interpretation
and perception of the
park, we all left with a
sense of awe and a
wonderful feeling of inspiration and serenity.
Authors and photographs of this feng shui report and evaluation by
RD Chin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and Leticia Villeneuve (email@example.com)
For any questions or additional comments, please feel free to contact us.
For a well documented article on the history and stories about the memorial,
I encourage you to read online:
The Pennsylvania Gazette, March/April 2013
“Constructing a New Kahn”
our feng shui group
John and RD