Designing for Life and Death:
Sustainable Disposition and Spaces of Remembrance in the 21st Century Metropolis

Friday, April 1, 2016

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Columbia University, Low Memorial Library
Columbia students, staff, and faculty register here.
Tickets for the general public are available here.
What we do with the physical and incorporeal remains of our dead reflects the character of the living. The environmental toll of traditional burial and cremation, changing social norms, and spatial limitations within our rapidly growing cities demand alternative mortuary designs that change the way we honor our deceased.

Our Objectives

1. To present and discuss feasible solutions to a) the scarcity of urban cemetery space, b) resource consumption, soil and air pollution, c) the changing role of faith and diverse needs for memorialization among 21st century urban residents.

2. To engage relevant stakeholders in a productive dialogue about the opportunities and challenges of realizing innovative solutions to the disposition of human remains and the design of respectful, public spaces of remembrance - with NYC serving as a model for addressing these issues in the US and globally.

  9:00 AM: Registration
AM: Welcome
AM: Introductory Remarks
AM: Why What We Do with Our Dead Matters
AM: How Death is Situated in 21st Century Urban Life
AM: What is going on Elsewhere - Global Cities Overview
AM: Science of Alternative Corpse Disposition
AM: Comments/Questions
AM: Break
AM: Legal & Regulatory Challenges of Disposition Methods
AM: Vision for Change: Urban Spaces of Remembrance
PM: Comments/Questions
PM: Lunch
PM: Stakeholders' Perspective - Funeral Services & Spiritual Care
PM: Stakeholders' Perspective - Civic Life
PM: Break
PM: Accomplishing Sustainable, Innovative Urban Change
PM: Round Table Discussion / Strategizing Next Steps
PM: Wine Reception
Christina Staudt, Columbia University Seminar on Death
Robert Pollack, Columbia University Seminars
Karla Rothstein, DeathLAB, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University
David Sloane, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California
Ruth Toulson, Humanistic Studies, Maryland Institute College of Art
Kartik Chandran, Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University
Tanya Marsh, School of Law, Wake Forest University
Jason Bradshaw, Bradshaw Funeral Home
Amy Cunningham, Funeral Director
Rev. Eric Hall, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network
Richard Moylan, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn
Jevon Truesdale, Qico
Bruce Jennings, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University
Jennifer Preston, AIA NYC Committee on the Environment
Mary Rowe, The Municipal Art Society of New York
Mark C. Taylor, Department of Religion, Columbia University
Clara Irazabal Zurita, GSAPP, Columbia University
Adam Forman, Center for an Urban Future
Brad Lander, Brooklyn District 39 New York City Council
James S. Russell, New York City Dept. of Design and Construction
Alice Shay, Bloomberg Associates Urban Planning
Jesse Keenan, Center for Urban Real Estate, GSAPP, Columbia University
Select Architectural Designers, DeathLAB, GSAPP

 Please direct all questions to

Support for this event is provided by Columbia University Seminars; Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; The Earth Institute; The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life