Based at Columbia University GSAPP, DeathLAB is a trans-disciplinary research and design initiative focused on reconceiving how we live with death in the metropolis.
DeathLAB makes it possible for dynamic minds to come together to engage with the complex challenges of our individual and collective mortality.
Our ambition is to develop design strategies that can be prototyped, built, and experienced by the public. We are dedicated to securing public space for the future city.
At the core of DeathLab is a team of leading researchers, scholars, experts, and designers from fields that enable us to engage with both intimate and infrastructural urban concerns.
KARLA MARIA ROTHSTEIN
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. Her interest focuses on 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 with 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
Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, CU
MacArthur Foundation Grant Recipient '16
WEF Award Recipient '16
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 conversion of waste to energy facilitates environmental aspirations of our lab. 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
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.
Working with Karla Rothstein for over five years teaching 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.
Our research associates are comprised of of architecture and engineering students,
who bring an incredible range of experience and energy to the undertakings of the lab.