The Landscape Architect’s Guide to

Washington, D.C.

The National Mall & Memorial Parks

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Your Guide
Susan Spain, ASLA
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One of four presidential memorials on the National Mall, the FDR memorial, which is comprised of landscape rooms with water and sculpture, is tucked into a garden like environment on the west bank of the Tidal Basin. The memorial was groundbreaking – it demonstrated that visitors could encounter and understand complex stories through an orchestrated landscape experience and that they would enjoy numerous inscriptions. Roosevelt and important 20th century stories are portrayed at a human scale. The sound of water mitigates the disadvantage of being in the flight landing path of Reagan National Airport.

History:

A memorial to honor the 32nd President in West Potomac Park was approved in 1959. (Note: A desk-sized stone memorial to FDR is located north of the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.)

In 1974, Lawrence Halprin won a design competition for the memorial. But, due to a failure by Congress to secure funds, Halprin’s design was not realized for over 20 years.

The memorial was dedicated on May 2, 1997.

In 2001, a sculpture of FDR in a wheelchair and a related quotation about what he had gained from his disability were added to the prologue room. 

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Comments
Amy Christiansen RN November 5, 2012 3:14 AM
Ive been to DC several times, but only last year discovered this incredible memorial. GO SEE THIS. A must see is right!!!
Barbara Strain September 23, 2012 8:53 AM
Our family has been going to Washington, DC for more than 25 years and discovered this gem of a memorial this summer. What a refreshing delight along the Potomac basin. A must see recommendation.
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