BUILDING: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island / Barney Kulok

  • 15 Feb 2013
  • by
  • Publications

In September 2011 Barney Kulok  was granted special permission to create photographs at the construction site of Louis I. Kahnʼs Four Freedoms Park in New York City, commissioned in 1970 as a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The last design Kahn completed before his untimely death in 1974, Four Freedoms Park became widely regarded as one of the great unbuilt masterpieces of twentieth-century architecture. Almost forty years after having been commissioned, it is finally being completed this year, as originally intended. 

Kulokʼs black-and-white photographs function as a meditation on the materiality and formal underpinnings of Kahnʼs theories. More than that, they are a statement about the value of carefully measured photographic seeing at a time when the instant digital photo and its accompanying host of nostalgic filters has become the common currency of the medium.Building is at once a historical record and a multilayered visual investigation of form and the subtleties of texture—elements that were of fundamental importance to Kahnʼs phenomenal achievements. As architect Steven Holl writes, “Kulokʼs photographs free the subject matter from a literal interpretation of the site. They stand as ʻEquivalentsʼ to the words about material, light, and shadow that often spoke.

” Barney Kulokis a graduate of the BardCollege photography program and is represented by Nicole Klagsburn Gallery in New York and Galerie Hussenot, Paris He lives and works in New York City. 

Designer: And Smith
Dimensions: 14 x 11 inches
Pages: 80 pages, 40 duotone images

Cite: AD Editorial Team. "BUILDING: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island / Barney Kulok" 15 Feb 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • ace weems

    Judging from the photos he took this book looks like a real waste of money; what do these images say about BUILDING or Lou´s fanastic monument? Nothing. Just a bunch of artsy photos (they´renot even good on their own terms!)that reveal the photographer´s own idiosyncracies which cannot be understood. What offends me here is the narcissism expressed by the fact that the title of the book doesn´t even mention the monument or give credit to Louis Kahn! I´m still waiting for a serious book on this fanastic work.

    • Roberto

      Looks like the book’s title does give credit to Louis Kahn…”Building: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island” -I think the idea is that the photographer is translating Kahn’s ideas into the photographic medium…

    • John

      Cooper Union produced a brief book about this project that is very good. It places the memorial in Kahn’s works, contains sketches, model shots, and construction documents. It’s entitling COMING TO LIGHT. I think you may enjoy it.

  • Phillip Q

    @aceweems I just bought this book because I was intrigued by the images I saw on this site. It is absolutely stunning. You should buy it, or at least go look at it in a book store. Having visited the memorial as a huge fan of Kahn, I found this book illuminating (as are the texts by architect Steven Holl and Louis Kahn’s son, the filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn). I am very happy I bought it, it is bound to be a seminal work on the legacy of Louis Kahn.