I remember when Franklin D. Roosevelt died. It was dinner time. The radio had been moved to the dining room, my family listening for reports on the President's condition, a scene no doubt played out in homes across the country. Now, suddenly, we were all standing, silent, with heads bowed, dinner abandoned on the table. I was told that Roosevelt was dead and how important he had been for our country, for the world, and for our family.

Site elevations, Roosevelt Memorial. Graphite on yellow trace. Courtesy, Sue Ann Kahn and Max Protetch Gallery.
The betterment of mankind was a paramount theme among my parents' circle of friends and colleagues. Almost the entirety of my father's early architectural practice was devoted to uplifting people's lives through enlightened design of mass housing and community planning. Many projects he worked on or spearheaded were funded by Roosevelt's Public Works Administration, Resettlement Administration, and other arms of the New Deal.

Standing in the Salk Institute plaza, bathed in the light of the Kimbell galleries, enthralled by the majesty of Dhaka, pondering the notebooks of poetical jottings, it is easy to forget that the creator of these was, early on, a fervent advocate for and an authority on public housing. In the end, my father was indeed able to enhance and enrich people's lives through his art, a legacy of which I am fiercely proud. My generation has reaped the benefits of Roosevelt's social agenda, for which I am profoundly grateful.

The final design for the New York memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt was completed just months before my father died. I believe it to be a work of great power and clarity. Light years away from his early practice, it was created after he had absorbed the lessons of the great monuments that endure, still vital through the ages. It is the only completed late work of his that remains unbuilt.

I look forward to going there, to experiencing the Garden and the Room, to savor the moments of silence.

New York City, December 2004