ABOUT

Based at Columbia University GSAPP, the DeathLab is a trans-disciplinary research and design space focused on reconceiving how we live with death in the metropolis.

DeathLab makes it possible for dynamic minds to come together to engage the complex challenges of our individual and collective mortality.

We are changing how people think about death.

At the core of DeathLab is a team of leading researchers, scholars, experts, and designers from fields that enable us to engage both intimate and infrastructural urban concerns.

Our ambition is to develop design strategies that can be prototyped, built, and experienced by the public. We are dedicated to plausible possibility.

Karla Maria Rothstein
Director, Columbia University GSAPP DeathLab
Associate Professor of Architecture, CU GSAPP
Design Director, Latent Productions

Karla Maria Rothstein is an architect, professor, and creative thinker - living, practicing, and teaching in New York City. Her areas of research span intimate spaces of metropolitan domestic life and infrastructures of death and memory, at the intersections of social justice and the built environment. In both her professional work as Design Director at Latent Productions and through over a decade of studios taught at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, Karla engages alternative and emerging methods of corpse disposal in progressive proposals of civic sanctuary and temporal urban remembrance. As a member of the Columbia University Seminar on Death since 2011, she is committed to the radical reshaping of urban public spaces which enable us to better honor our dead. In Karla's words, “the rituals surrounding human death and the subsequent disposition of the corpse reflect the social character of the living.”
Kartik Chandran, PhD
Associate, Columbia University GSAPP DeathLab
Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, CU

Kartik Chandran is an environmental engineer and professor, studying microbial communities in natural and engineered systems. Currently running a lab-scale fermentation process on the Columbia University campus, Kartik's practical knowledge related to biological fermentation, decomposition, water cycles, and the conversion of waste to energy facilitates the Lab’s environmental aspirations. Kartik will be working with DeathLab to explore the strategic application of microbial communities to accelerate biotransformation, particularly related to the disposition of human remains and the future of urban ecology.
Christina Staudt, PhD
Associate, Columbia University GSAPP DeathLab
President, Westchester End-of-Life Coalition
Chair, Columbia University Seminar on Death

Chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Death, Christina is co-founder of the Westchester End of Life Coalition and a hospice volunteer working with patients in their last days of life and their families. Her research and scholarly interests center on the interplay of death and community. Christina's practical experience with the grieving process and the dying is an invaluable contribution to DeathLab’s endeavor to provide innovative, respectful and sensitive propositions. At DeathLab Christina evokes and advises on the experience and perception of the individual. She is instrumental in our public relations and global outreach.

Mark C. Taylor, PhD
Associate, Columbia University GSAPP DeathLab
Chair, Department of Religion, Columbia University
Chair, American Academy of Religion
Co-Director, Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life

Mark Taylor is a philosopher of religion, cultural critic, and author on subjects ranging from visual arts to nanotechnology. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1968, he received his doctorate in the study of religion from Harvard University and began teaching at Williams College in 1973. In 2007, Taylor moved from Williams College to Columbia University, where he currently chairs the Department of Religion. At DeathLab, Mark facilitates dialogue, mentors, and contributes to academic research. His lucid analysis and cultural critique instigate discourse and design invention to engage philosophical contention and theology.


Jennifer Preston
Research Coordinator, Columbia University GSAPP DeathLab
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture, CU GSAPP
Director of Sustainable Design at BKSK Architects
Member of AIA-NY Committee on the Environment

Working with Karla Rothstein for over five years teaching core and advanced studios on death and memory at GSAPP, Jennifer Preston is devoted to guiding calibrated, rigorous investigations. She is currently working on sustainable building projects in NYC and Senegal. Her expertise with DeathLab encompasses sensitivity to human perception and a commitment to building judiciously resilient futures.
Kimberly V.K.H. Nguyen
Research Scholar, Columbia University GSAPP Death Lab
Critical Experimentalist, Latent Productions

Kimberly Nguyen is a designer, engineer, and avid explorer. She recently completed her Masters in Architecture at Columbia University GSAPP, and holds a B.S. in Architectural Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. She enjoys collaborating with others, integrating knowledge from different perspectives, and approaching design from multiple angles to enable projects to emerge. Her discoveries during thesis work on grief and detachment at GSAPP compelled her to continue research and the pursuit of meaningful architecture through DeathLab.
Lily C. Wong
Research Associate, Columbia University GSAPP Death Lab

Lily Wong is currently pursuing her interests in urban politics and memory as a Master of Architecture student at GSAPP. She holds bachelor degrees in both philosophy and architectural design. At DeathLab Lily is instrumental in all aspects of the Dialogue on Death interview project.
Lorenzo Villaggi
Research Associate, Columbia University GSAPP Death Lab

Lorenzo holds a degree in Architecture cum laude from the Politecnico of Milan, and is currently pursuing his Masters in Architecture at the GSAPP, Columbia University. At Death Lab, Lorenzo contributes to the research, development and archiving of digital information, pursuing his interests in computational processes and future-oriented experimental designs.
Galen Pardee
Research Associate, Columbia University GSAPP Death Lab

Currently a Master of Architecture student at Columbia GSAPP, Galen holds a B.A. in Political Science with high honors from Brandeis University. He has worked for social justice causes in Boston, Washington DC, England, Burma, and the Philippines. He is committed to exploring the mechanisms of social justice and sustainability in architecture through DeathLab.