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TABLE OF CONTENTS CONCEPT abstract thesis statement methods of inquiry terms of criticism models and drawings PRECEDENTS PROGRAM square footages cost estimate adjacencies design strategies massing study SITE sites considered historical analysis site 1 site 2 sun and wind master plan study zoning TECHNOLOGY building systems digital HEALTH AND WELLNESS mental physical CLIENT & USER narrative interviews BIBLIOGRAPHY QUALIFICATIONS


16 26


60 62 64 74 76


MEMENTO MORI m 'men,tō 'môrē noun An object serving as a reminder of death 1 Latin, remember (that you have) to die 2 Often referenced in "vanitas" still life paintings in which rotting fruit or skulls are depicted 3 Thought to increase empathy and affect materialism 4 e


Mirriam Webster Dictionary Ibid. 3 Gardiner, Art Through the Ages 44 Jonas, Schimel, Greenberg, Pyszcsynski. “The Scrooge Effect: Evidence that Mortality Salience Increases Prosocial Attitudes and Behavior” 2

To create a memento mori for the city. A place that will combat cultural fear and avoidance of death. Where death is serious yet lighthearted, so the citizen is able to digest its monumentality on a daily basis. The building will house the bodies of the deceased, the memories and dreams of the living. To be used by the mourner, the mortician, and the quotidian visitor, it will be a space in which to experience death’s reality within safety and comfort. The building is to become integrated into the urban fabric of Boston, acting a street, a park, and public space. It will address a new typology of death in the modern city, and a history of cultural mortuary practices. A place where one could go to feel totally alone yet safe, and where one could go to feel totally supported by the urban community. An experiment in adding city life to death, and death to the city life. 5


Much like architecture weighs functionalism and meaning, funerary traditions arise at the vertex of environmental demands and spiritual beliefs. The Tibetan practice of Sky Burial exemplifies this junction, as environmental demands are extreme in the Himalayas, and beliefs about death are explicit. The corpse is placed on a mountaintop to decompose as it is exposed to the elements and scavenger animals.5 A Rogyapas or “body-breaker� disassembles the body, usually in laughter or high spirits for it eases the soul’s move from the uncertain plane between life and death onto the next life. The mountainous land on which these people live is too hard and rocky to build a grave; above the tree line a scarcity of wood makes cremation impossible. The Vajrayana Buddhists believe that the body is an empty vessel after death and therefore it does not need to be preserved. Rather, the body is fed to sustain other living creatures, vultures and scavenger animals. These environmental demands and spiritual beliefs converge to create a death ritual unique to Tibetan monks. Underlying these unusual practices, however, are universal themes in death that appear cross culturally. Research into funerary traditions worldwide expose universal themes. Every individual and culture approach these themes in idiosyncratic ways. These themes are as follows. 7









All cultures gather in times of loss. Some cultures tend to gather in smaller, intimate groups where only close friends and family of the relative are allowed. In other cultures death is a public celebration of life. In Bali, lavish ceremonies involve thousands of volunteers gathering to carry large bamboo platforms, a wooden bull and a wooden dragon. Porters swing the platform, laughing gaily, to confuse the spirits. The body is placed inside the bull and burned as the dragon watches on. Observers ritually prod the ashes with disrespect for the now-useless body. As the body burns, it is believed, the soul rises in sparks and the body returns to the earth.6 Whether intimate or parade-like, gathering provides support for all.




From obituaries and eulogies to casual memories around the dinner table, storytelling is an intimate part of death. As we keep loved ones alive in memories, we hope to stay immortal in the minds of others. Storytelling allows mourners to release and share emotion, happy and sad. In Madagascar, as ritual called famadihana is performed every five or seven years. The bones of the deceased, wrapped in cloth, are removed from their tomb are exhumed and sprayed with perfume or wine. These rituals are full of feasting, dancing, and most importantly, storytelling. The deceased is filled in on recent news, and stories are passed on to young children. This ritual strengths ancestral bonds and becomes a way to teach about life and death.7


Food is treated very differently, varying from person to person, and between cultures. Many individuals report an inability to eat after loss, whether this is a human characteristic or influence by cultural norms around death is uncertain. In response, loved ones are tasked with feeding the grieving.8 A gift of food often acts as a stand in for condolences, where words are too sensitive. All cultures have traditions around food and death. In Judaism, one is not supposed to eat or drink in the presence of the dead, for it would be mocking their inability to do so. After a prompt burial, family friends prepare a meal of eggs (a symbol of life), and bread. Highly ritualized traditions such give structure to mourning when the grieving are at a loss.






The idea of a final resting place is important to almost all people and cultures. The tombstone is the most common, a physical marker of the body’s ultimate home. The tombstone allows those close to the deceased a place to visit and remember. Spreading ashes is a common way of returning the body to the places it once loved. Placement of the body is a ritual that is intertwined in the motions of mourning. In eastern Indonesia, until the family saves money for a lavish funeral, the body is kept in the house and treated as though the person were resting or ill.9 The funeral, or placement of the body, symbolizes a stage in the process of grief. Space for the dead is quickly becoming current urban problem in dense cities. Japan has dealt with this problem by creating crematorium towers. Loved ones arrive, ask to see the remains of the deceased, and the ashes are delivered.10 This vending-machine-like experience can easily become dissatisfying to the mourners, as their loved one’s final home is less permanent. Place grounds ephemeral loss. Place is where architecture’s relation to death is most evident. The structures of death tell stories, provide space to gather, celebrate, and consume food. Most importantly they allow the living to interact with dead. From the pyramids to Roman Tombs, Olmstead’s picturesque landscapes to Rossi’s city for the dead, the architecture of death reflects


May, Fascinating Funeral Traditions from Around the Globe Mydans, At Royal Balinese Funeral, Bodies Burn and Souls Fly 7 Beakrak, “Dead Join the Living in a Family Celebration” 8 Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking 9 Swazey, Life that Doesn’t End with Death 10 Halime, Avant Garde Afterlife Space Shortage Inspires New Burial Ideas and Suzuki The Price of Death: The Funeral Industry in Contemporary Japan 8 6

and defines culture. Although these themes are present in modern Boston funerals, fear and anxiety around death cloud their healing effects from mourners and the general community. Grief is not openly accepted in our culture, therefore funerals and mourners are concealed and ignored. Modern life, especially in the city, is full of constant diversions that distract us from considering mortality. In Western Attitudes Toward Death from the Middle Ages to the Present, Philippe Aries explains that prior to the seventeenth century people were aware of their own death, prepared themselves for death, and accepted it. Death was a public ceremony and a intimate part of life. The trancedentalists saw exposure to death as positive, inspiring the design of Cambridge’s famous Mount Auburn Cemetery (see page 73). By the eighteenth century, Aries observed an increasingly fearful dramatization of death. Death was placed in a taboo category, similar to sex, and thus lost its normalization. By the early twentieth century, death became shameful and forbidden. By the 1950s, as death moved from the home to the hospital, it became sterilized and solitary. Vaults and embalming came into vogue for burials, and cremation became increasingly popular. The act of dying is now seen as ugly and sorrowful, something to save ourselves and others from. Aries argues that specifically in the United States, we deny our own deaths and although we are vaguely aware of our mortality we feel immortal at heart.11 Since Aries’ book in 1974, the internet age has further distanced culture from death. Our digital selves are immortal, forever floating in cyberspace.12 The current census shows a large population of Catholic (44%) and non-religious (23%) people in Boston today. The demographic trajectory of the city shows a trend of increasing diversity and non-believers. Boston’s science and tech driven economy attracts a growing population of young agnostics. This culture may be more interested in sustainable death practices and organ donations. The body, for the science interested, can be useful postmortem by giving away the useful parts. Spiritually, this culture admits to an ignorance around death, in terms of the destination of the soul. This thesis will explore the convergence of the spiritual beliefs of modern Bostonians, as well as the practical ramifications of death in the city. The culture of death is at the apex of change. Funerals are becoming individualized, not restricted to any perscripted order, celebrations of life. We are beginning to reconsider where we die and what happens to our bodies afterward. Architects are beginning to design the structures of death, rethinking the methods of the past.

11 12

Aries, Western Attitudes toward death Bowman, From Facebook To A Virtual You: Planning Your Digital Afterlife



methods used to seek knowledge that can help answer questions central to my thesis • Diagram the urban fabric (age, circulation, density) to determine where the building should fit in and stand out. • Explore mourning ritual through sequences of perspectives, or animation • Use sectional perspectives to consider otherworldly scales • Research and diagram potential approaches to test success • Create models to explore the translation of memory to form and vice versa • Explore threshold through the meeting of materials in the detail.



the terms (language, measures and criteria) applied to inquiries and findings that help us evaluate their worth • Does it transgress societal norms around the fear and avoidance of death? Such as silence around death, dissassociation with the body, ignorance of our own mortality. • Does it contribute to the city by becoming a point of interest, by adding an aspect of stillness, by influencing citizens to care for each other and their city? • Does it work as a memento mori, reminding the citizen of their own demise in a place of comfort? • Does the building address the needs of the mourner, the mortician, and the general citizen? These needs are outlined in the client/user section.



These sketch studies of entrance led to the postcard model. The above model grapples with monumentality, stepping up, stepping down, having structure overhead but not in front or behind. The model below was made with scraps from the first model, it’s memories or leftovers. It plays with depth and again the arch.


The postcard model uses the memories of strangers as material. Part of the memory is removed or altered. Several areas develop, a procession, a gathering space, a hiding spot.



Charcoals describe the moment of liminality between life and death. There is an unknown, an eternal question. It is the point at which the edges of the trees meet the sky, or where land meets its mirror, the sky swallows the sea.


Watercolors by essence are more lighthearted. They are about journeys and containers, wind and shadows, water.


Modena, Italy 1971 Rossi plays with scale to create an almost disturbingly methodical surreal building. This forces its visitor to confront death The building types are derived from his residential architecture: porticoes and narrow streets. Creating


a city of the dead

totally devoid of life. Cataldo is informed by Rossi’s theory about collective memory, that space can arouse


memories ingrained in society. In a car accident before the construction of the building, he began to think of the structure as ALDO ALDO ROSSI ROSSI a series of fractions to San Cataldo Cemetery San Cataldo Cemetery be unified.

San Vito d’Altivole, Italy 1970-1972 Described as a place to feel alive. “The Place for the dead is a garden” - Scarpa. Scarpa was buried in a back nook of the Brion complex. He includes a meditation pavilion, drawing the body moving from standing to sitting, or vice versa. Scarpa’s drawings show how he thought of building, detail, and concept simultaneously. In a small town near the mountains, Scarpa understands that life is full of death, that we must interact with it. Scarpa’s focus on life contrasts Rossi’s on death.

CARLO CARLO SCARPA SCARPA Brion-Vega Brion-Vega Cemetery Cemetery


The ground has been, historically, the place for the death in our culture. Some cultures, particularly those with flooding issues (New Orleans), bury their dead of stilts. Boston’s ground is mostly fill-in land. At this point, is there a difference between ground and building? How does one design an above ground cemetery (or above water) practical and symbolic?

Lebbeus Woods Einstein’s Tomb 1980

Walter Pichler Inhabiting the Earth The Sitsgruben (“Sitting Pits”) 1960-70


Constellation Park by Columbia Death Lab gives mourners one year to view the light emitted by their loved one. Dangling from the underside of the Manhattan Bridge, pods decompose bodies.


In the Cemetery for the Ashes of Thought (1975). Hejduk questions the cemetery program, designing one to house dead ideas. The cemetery itself consists of long walls to house the ashes. Across the lagoon is a viewing platform, making the cemetery into an object of desire. This project begins Hejduk’s meditation on the city of Venice as a metaphoric place for deep cultural significance.

House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide 1980-1982. Here Hejduk reflects on sameness and difference that is often more apparent in the midst of death.

Thirteen Watchtowers of Cannaregio. Hejduk uses narrative to create Architecture. 19

Igualada, Spain 1994 The cemetery represents the cycle of life is as past, present, and future. It is a city of the dead where dead and alive are brought back together. It is a cut-out, blending into the landscape, unfolding in a continuous an fluid progression. The visitor descends out of the city and into another world in a downward procession. Concrete, stone, and wood are used in repetitive and organic fashions to create rhythm.











Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center allows those passing through to interact with the building without going inside.

The Museum of Science acts as building, bridge, and island. A large amount of the program is parking.

North Bank Bridge creates an experience under the Zakim Bridge of wonder and movement.


CHAPEL PRECEDENTS Barragan’s Tlalpan chapel embodies emotion, power, and silence through color, form, and most importantly light. An entrance and exit experience heightens the impact within the chapel.

Saarinen’s Kresge Chapel uses water, light, and brick to create a welcoming and warm interior. An entranceway let’s the visitor exit reality before entering the chapel.

Ronchamp responds to its site with organic forms that bring the visitor into an otherworldly state. The building alters conscience and emotion. Its plan is wide open yet its details make it a maze of wonder with spaces for gathering and solitude.





The cemetery for the city rethinks traditional program for a cemetery. In addition to space for burial and ashes, a chapel, and service space, event spaces and a library bring life to death. Proms, galas, and other large events will take place here in addition to large funerals. Holding these event types - full of life - in the midst of death, will change our attitudes towards death. A small event space will hold more intimate funerals as well as concerts and performances. The ever growing burial space will fill in over time. Also growing with age, the library will hold the stories of those buried here, putting on curated exhibitions displaying these stories. Like the archival of holocaust stories at Safde’s Yad Vashem or the collection and storage of mementos left behind at the Vietnam memorial, the library will be a record of the people who died and their visitors. The cemetery will have visitors of all different capacities of interaction. Some will come to mourn, moving slowly and thoughtfully. Others will move through quickly on their way somewhere else. Groups of mourners will move together. Small spaces for one or two people will be scattered throughout, providing quiet space to feel alone and yet safe in the midst of everything that is happening.



Cost Estimate A Building Costs B Fixed Equiptment C Site Development D Total Construction E Site Acquisition F Moveable Equiptment G Professional Fees H Contingencies I Administrative Costs K Total Budget

$125/sf 8% of A 25% of A A+B+C 8% of A 6% of D 15% of D 1% of D

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

10,000,000.00 800,000.00 2,500,000.00 13,300,000.00 5,000,000.00 800,000.00 798,000.00 1,995,000.00 133,000.00 22,026,000.00

$ 30,000,000.00

$ 70,000,000.00

$ 47,026,000.00

$ 87,026,000.00



The cemetery will grow over time around the core elements of the program: the chapel and event spaces. Averaging 100 burials a year (this is based on the number of burials at Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord), by 2050 the cemetery will house 5,000 graves. Although the cemetery is not based on profit, a common grave at Sleepy Hollow costs $1200, while a common grave at Mount Auburn costs $8000 and up. If necessary, the cemetery could be quite profitable, possibly raising money for the homeless, whose dead could be admitted for free. The cemetery will also shrink to a certain extent, as the bodies decompose. This could come into the design poetically.







street as linear datum

DESIGN STRATEGIES program branches off main avenue

two paths, one direct, one that weaves between program

program wraps around street

program interupts street

The program exists as distinct elements held together by burial space. The street serves as a linear pathway around which the program lays. The burial space extends infinitely to be filled over time.

street grows vertically into a building.





Operational and nonoperational cemeteries in the Boston area


New Bridge over Fort Point Channel A bridge connecting South Station and the convention center. On the downtown side, the site is busy and urban. There is a stillness on the other side. The post office building is destined for removal, and housing is moving in. Commuters will come from the Fort Point side to work in the city, commuters taking the train to South Station will commute to work in the Seaport. The cemetery program would add to the cultural program of the channel, from the Children’s museum to a floating Art Barge.


Northern Avenue Bridge The now structurally defunct bridge has moving water, is close to the bustle of downtown, and also carries the moaning winds of the sea. It would become a commuting route once restored. Charles River Mythologically, rivers and death are often paired. Moving water can be cathartic. Perhaps the cemetery is on an artificial island on the Charles. Or maybe half is on one side, half on the other. The BU bridge would be an interesting site, for the train bridge could be used for a pedestrian path. Central Square /MIT Perhaps the cemetery takes on a role of studying the methods of treating bodies rather than choosing one. MIT would be a beneficial site. The steaminess of Vassar street is ephemeral. Central square is arguably urban, close to residents, and on many commutes. Conclusion: This site is too far from downtown, and the focus should be on the spiritual experience rather than the scientific. Downtown Boston Definitely the most urban option in terms of building heights, downtown Boston is artificial, impersonal, and materialistic. The cemetery would make a nice counterpoint to these attributes.



site option 1: Northern Avenue Bridge

site option 2: New bridge over F o r t Po i n t C h a n n e l



Source: Boston Public Library

Fort Point Channel was a natural channel linking Boston Harbor and the South Bay. Two bridges were built over the channel in the early 1800s. In the 1830s, a seawall was built and the wharfs were filled in. Much of Boston’s contemporary landscape was filled in with local hills. The Fort Point area was an industrial and financial haven for molasses and wool merchants. With the construction of South Station, the Summer street bridge was built. As commerce on the channel began to dwindle in the 1930s, the Congress Street bridge was constructed. By the 1970s, Fort Point had lost its manufacturing business, and Artists began to move in. The early 2000s brought new life to the Fort Point Channel area. Ambitious planning initiatives have brought culture, business, and residences to the area.


Source: Boston Public Library

The Northern Avenue Bridge was built in 1909 for trains crossing the Fort Point Channel. From 1912 to 1948, a floating firehouse abutted the bridge. In 1999, the bridge was closed to vehicle traffic and operated as a pedestrian bridge until 2014 when it was deemed unsafe..

Source: Boston Public Library

South Station opened on January 1, 1899, costing $3.6 million dollars. It was designed by Shepley Rutan and Coolidge of Boston. The Boston Redevelopment Authority bought the station in 1965. It was renovated in 1978, and again in 1989. The building is designed in the neoclassic style. It accommodates buses, trains, and subway.

Source: Boston Public Library














The Northern Avenue Bridge connects downtown to Fort Point, as well as the channel to the open water. The site receives good light all day. It’s history adds interesting cultural value. This site, however, has a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge is space, it is not quite big enough.

Boston Greenway

Downtown Boston


Northern Avenue Bridge, Lynch Diagram


Northern Avenue Bridge

Institute of Contemporary Art




A new bridge over Fort Point Channel would allow for more room. It offers some land on either side, so the visitor would move from ground to floating and back to ground, all within the cemetery. This bridge has already been proposed to the city, and a competition is planned to design it. This site is both historically rich, and looking into the future. Currently it is lost in both, the cemetery would help to ground it, and rethink this area as a new urban space.

Source: Boston Revelopment Authority



Boston Greenway

Urbanity on the downtown edge


South Station

The calm and still Fort Point edge

Old factory buildings of the Fort Point

Path next to the channel Convention Center







summer solstice

winter solstice













Source: National Water and Climate Center


As the sun sits lower in the sky in Boston’s cold winters, the moon rests higher above the horizon as the days get shorter. The moon’s position in the sky varies daily but is based on an 18.6 year cycle between the major and minor standstills. At the major standstill, the moon’s declination reaches a maximum, changing quickly from high in the sky to low over the horizon. The next major standstill is April 2025 and the next minor standstill is March 2024.


Source: The Boston Harbor Association

Source: NOAA

The Fort Point Channel has the opportunity to embrace infrastructure in response to climate change. The tidal movements of the channel can be used to harness energy. The channel could be an important barrier to flooding, downtown’s gateway to the harbor. Most importantly is our social interaction with the channel, one of embracing the sea rather than fear or ignorance. 55


Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority

The masterplan of Fort Point Channel includes tree-lined walkways on either side of the channel, the addition of cultural infrastructure, and a general enlivening of the area with new business, industry, and residential. A new bridge has been proposed crossing from South Station to a park leading to the convention center. Four residential towers are planned to replace the Post Office Building, but this has been put on hold so acquiring at least some of this land for a different purpose would not be out of the question. The addition of a cemetery would add a new element to the cultural shift of the area. It would add meaning to a thoughtful yet soulless plan. The cemetery will transform the channel into a place of cultural innovation.

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority


Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority

The proposed Convention Center expansion is at a scale larger than anything around it. The cemetery could be used as a gateway into this strange scale, placing commuters into and out of the human scale.

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority

Proposed building height approaches to nearing the channel’s edge.

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority


ZONING AND CODES The Fort Point Channel is located in the South Boston Waterfront District covered under Article 27P and the Boston Proper district covered under Article 27D. Additionally, portions of land around the Channel are in the Greenway Overlay District and must meet the provision of Article 42E. The maximum allowable height is 65 feet with a maximum FAR of 3 in the Boston Proper district. The maximum allowable height is185 feet with a maximum FAR of 6.5 in the Fort Point Channel district. However, planning for the Fort Point district recommends buildings step up in height away from the channel. Set backs are required to be at least 50 feet from the harbor edge, excluding piers. A continuous walkway along the channel is required with a minimum width of 12 feet. Section 27P-12 requires at least 50% of lot area to be devoted to open space.

Parcel 0305365000 address: 25-45 Dorchester Ave. owner: United States Postal Service use: tax exempt district: Boston Proper subdistrict: New Economic Development B-10 overlays: interim planning overlay district estimated value: $70,000,000 square footage: 617,794 sq ft


Parcel 0601165010 address: 244-284 A Street owner: Gillette Company use: commercial land district: South Boston subdistrict: M-2/M-4/B-10 subdistrict type: general business overlays: groundwater conservation estimated value: $28,000,000 square footage: 393,160 sq ft

Parcel 0302956000 address: 440-436 Atlantic Ave. owner: James Hook use: commercial land district: Boston Proper subdistrict: M-4 subdistrict type: Restricted Manufacturing overlays: Greenway overlay, interim planning estimated value: $2,000,000 square footage: 18,869 sq ft

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority


TECHNOLOGY The building will respond to the technological necessities of housing bodies safely, as well as the metaphysical notions of death and memory. Structurally the building will take inspiration from the weight of death and the lightness of life. It will hold safe the bodies that arrive, and those that drift away. The building will consider sound, air, ventilation, touch, and smell, in the experience of its users. It is important that the building carry its message from the detail to the whole.

s t r u c t u r e

The structure must accommodate a growing load. How can the structure creatively respond to its current load, while preparing for future weight? Perhaps the building with consist of an open framework, that is filled over time. Both proposed sites require a bridge, and possibly a floating structure. The structural spanning of two sides will symbolize the liminality of death. Metaphorically, the concept of death will support life, and life will support death. The structure will take cues from Safde’s Holocaust museum and the work of Calatrava.


Source: Archdaily

Source: Archdaily

v e n t i l a t i o n

Funerary processes such as embalming will occur on this site, the building must provide clean air to its visitors and the surrounding city. These processes must not be hidden, citizens should be aware of exhaust without adverse health effects. The design will consider ways in which impure output can be converted into beneficial mediums such as heat. Decay will need to be considered, visitors should interact with the dead but not with their odor. The design will consider sustainable methods for burial, for example Jae Rhim Lee’s mushroom burial suit (shown below). Limitations will be placed on the chemicals used on bodies entering the facility.








As life involves a certain amount of virtual presence, modern death might as well. How can the building respond to this trend in an appropriate and sensitive way? This will be dealt with in the library. When a person’s body is housed at the cemetery, their family will provide documents (photos, recordings, videos, writing, etc.) that will be stored and displayed at the library.



MENTAL The cemetery will provide space for mourning, and dealing with mental disturbances associated with loss. Maladaptive behaviors such as withdrawal from society, denial, and guilt. It will aid mourners in the process of grief, through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These five stages will be referenced in the building, so that by navigating the building, one navigates the healing process. The cemetery will prepare its users for future life events: death of a loved one, coming to terms with one’s own death, experiences of loss other than death, depression, and anxiety. Users will be able to experience emotional stress while feeling safe and in control As a memento mori, the building will promote social welfare. Thinking about death has been shown to increase empathy and decrease materialism. 13 The cemetery will influence higher mental aspirations as the user contemplates his, her, or its own demise

In the Victorian era, postmortem photography was a popular way of memorializing the dead. Cultural norms about death have obviously changed, as have the ways we deal with loss.


Aldo Rossi used constructs created by society to build Architecture that referenced a collective memory. His work in turn has a severe effect on the emotional state of its visitors.

Jonas, Schimel, Greenberg, Pyszcsynski. “The Scrooge Effect: Evidence that Mortality Salience Increases Prosocial Attitudes and Behavior”

62Beck, “What Good is Thinking About Death?” 14

The Kubler-Ross model of grief is a well known set of stages postulated for people following loss. This model has been critiqued as being too strict in its division and organization of emotions.

PHYSICAL The cemetery will promote physical well being as users will care for their body in life. 14 As mental and physical health are deeply related, this building focuses on mental health but will thus have effects on physical health. The cemetery will be a welcoming and accessible space to all. The design will accommodate all physical abilities in its pathways and elevation change. All entranceways and thresholds will make an effort in smooth and safe transitions. As an attractive commuting way, the cemetery will promote pedestrian habits in the city. Its open spaces will encourage interaction with the outdoors.

Ending and Beginning


Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher scans different types of tears in an electron microscope. This project alludes to the effect of emotional states on physical wellbeing. Laughter



I like to interact with people, in this space I am able to help people through difficult times. The space itself does not change culture, but it allows me to do my job better. It puts my work out there so people are more prepared when it is their time to visit me.



In complete instability, the building allows me to feel. I see my emotions in the textures of the walls. Passing between light and dark, I can contrast my inner state or devote myself to it. The building allows me to be alone for I know it is protecting my loved ones the way it protects me. Here I am no burden, nor am I burdened. The building absorbs what I cannot hold onto.

Each morning I walk through the cemetery on my way to work. In this space - street-like, citylike - I practice a daily meditation. Sometimes I am all alone, mentally or physically. I realize my own singular existence, and I feel safe. This empowers me as I continue my day knowing that only I can lead this life. Some days I feel the emotion of all the visitors, and I know they must absorb my emotion in return. On these days I am comforted by the presence of humanity. The building is different every day: always familiar yet surprising. I am never sure whether this change is within me or the building itself. Perhaps someone new has left their body to the earth, perhaps I grew overnight, perhaps the building rotated a few degrees.


INTERVIEWS Tish Hopkins (Public Works Employee, Grave Digger, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord) Can you tell me about your job here at the cemetery and what it entails? I work for Public Works. We are a division of public works here but I am in the cemetery primarily. We have a contractor that does our maintenance for Sleepy Hollow. I still do the two in the center of town, there’s two older burial grounds in the center. So I maintain the grounds there and mow and do all the leaves and all that fun stuff. Here I sell the graves to families, dig the graves, find the graves, research sometimes to find out where to dig in a lot. Tree trimming, clean up lots, clean up headstones, things like that. We set all the military markers, those are sent to us, the headstones for military are sent to us and we install them here. How big is the cemetery? We maintain almost 50 acres. Including the two in the center of town. How many plots are there? We have no idea! We don’t know. We are actually in the process of looking at having our records digitized. When that happens we will know that answer but for right now we really don’t know. We guess that there’s over 10,000 burials. Even then, so many weren’t recorded from the early days we will never be 100% sure on that. How many burials do you do daily? In

65% cremation.

a year we do between 80 and 100 burials, we here at this cemetery are

You bury the ashes? Yes we do. Does that mean a smaller plot? It can, there is two different sizes that we have I can show you on a map. It depends on how many people the family is trying to provide for. So we have lots that are for full burial, these larger rectangles, each of these is a two grave lot. This is the newest section, so something you would give somebody if they were going to come buy a full burial plus cremated remains to put over the full burial or for cremated remains. So that single grave measures 3 and a half by 10. It is limited to a flat headstone, because it is single. A lot of people will buy a 2 grave lot, so enough space for 8 people. What do you mean by a flat headstone? Flush with the ground so that mowers can go right over it. We do allow people to plant around them but flush with the ground. The graves are only 3 and a half feet wide so to avoid having graves with headstones we do the minimum number here that you have to buy to have an upright headstone is 2 graves. So the stones are centered then on the two graves. It allows for some space between you and your neighbors. For your plantings and things like that. You also can buy the cremation lot, that’s these smaller squares. They are cheaper. A single grave costs twelve hundred dollars and will allow four people. This smaller square, the cremation lot, cost seven hundred and fifty dollars and will also allow 4 people to be interred, cremated and interred, no full burial option here because the plot is not large enough. Half the size of a single grave, and also limited to a single headstone, flush with the ground. If you purchase two graves or more, you can have an upright headstone or a bench or a rock, centered. If they buy a four grave lot, they can have a larger stone. That is what we allow, other places are different. We do have a size for a single grave lot, 2 by 1,6. In some parts of the cemetery you are allowed to have an upright stone on a single grave because it was permitted back in 1880, then it’s still permitted now. But not in the new section. How much room is there left at the cemetery, do you know? Well we just opened this whole area in 1998. We just opened the second phase of it 5 years ago. There is still a whole field, I don’t know exactly, there’s 5 acres of woods and a field over there and some room over here. Behind me is town owned property that’s not necessarily slated to be cemetery. My guess is, 30 years from now the cemetery committee is going to be looking at that saying, maybe we should put a dib in, put our name in for that one. But I’ll be retired by then! So I am not going to worry about it. How old is the old cemetery? The two in the center of town? Both we believe were being used, uh the town was incorporated in 1635 so as soon as people were here and being buried. We believe the old hill burying ground was the first. But we don’t have any records. And the oldest stone in the old hill burying ground is 1677. The oldest stone in the main street cemetery our south burying place, which is on Main Street, is 1697. But we think they were probably being used prior to that. Are there any big names in the cemeteries? So here at Sleepy Hollow we have Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Chester French, he carved the seated Lincoln in Washington, he also did the melbourne memorial here. In the center of town there are some local heroes. People come here all the time looking mostly for the authors, there’s a few others. We get a lot of tourists here, a lot of schools, buses. What do they do when they visit the grave if they are not visiting someone they knew personally.

Mostly at the author’s graves, they leave things. They leave pens and pencils, pennies. Do you have to clean those up? Well yeah, every few weeks we go up and clean it up. Anything they happen to have, a rock, whatever they find on the ground they will put there. Some people write letters, write notes to the authors and leave them.

Is a funeral often held when someone is buried? Typically, it is pretty rare that there isn’t a service at the time of the burial. It does happen, if someone doesn’t have any family or whatever. The family doesn’t want anything, but it’s pretty rare. Typically there is a service at a facility, a religious facility or at a funeral home and then the family comes here for another small service at the gravesite and then they leave. Sometimes the entire service is held here. How many people usually is it for a small or large service?

I’ve heard interments with one person and then we’ve had some with a hundred and fifty. It depends on

the age of the person. Depends on if there is still family close by. If it’s a young person I assume it is usually more. Typically, typically big, yeah. You said between 80 and 100 people a year, what is that weekly? Well this week, zero, last week, 4. You never know. What happens in the winter if the ground is frozen? We either jackhammer the frost or we have a frost box. It’s looks like a barrel cut in half the long way, and it’s the size of a grave it measures 3 by 8. It’s got a chimney in one end, and in the other end is an opening for a nozzle. You hook the nozzle into a propane tank, light it, and it thaws the ground. Leave it there for 12 hours and we go through a couple, it’s defrosted. Can you explain the process of digging the grave? So first what we do, is pull the lot card out. Say Michelle’s husband died, we would know the lot number, we could look on the map to find out where this is. We know that she is here in the right side of this grave and when we go out to find the grave there’s corners, little metal corners we can find with a shovel or a probe or a metal detector that mark all these corners. So we go find where it says G5 on Maple Avenue, then we use a probe, a metal rod, to find her. We’d rather find her with a probe than a bako. So we find her edge, then we lay a piece of plywood down, that’s the size of the grave 3 by 8. And also find the neighbors, if there are any. Mark it out, just cut around the board so we know where the dig with the bako. We just dig, hopefully with a bako, we have some old hills that don’t allow bako access, those are fun. Like the old days. How many people work at the cemetery? Here me, just me. When I need help for a funeral or for digging I’ll get help from the public works. They send me a person. Are there different parts of the cemetery for different religions? There are, in 1998 when we opened this section, this is acacia path, this section is regulated according to Jewish law. Anybody can be purchase here, anybody can buy a grave here. The major differences are that the graves are bigger, so they cost more. Because the Jewish community requested a 2 foot separation between caskets. We don’t allow any other religious symbolism in this area on a headstone. No graven images, no faces no animals, there is exceptions to most of the rules. But it is regulated in


accordance with what the community in our town requested. A strict orthodox person could not be interred here. We allow cremation, we allow a catholic to be buried here, but I wouldn’t be able to put a roman catholic cross on my headstone. That’s when we opened up Sundays for burial, we had not offered that as an option. I was just Monday through Saturday mostly, with Saturday being an overtime day. When we opened up this section we opened up Sundays for everybody. How has a profession that deals so much with death changed your life? I’ve been here since I was 17. So I got out of high school and just started here not know what I was getting myself into. I really was just starting for the summer, that’s all I was supposed to be doing. And the person that worked here before me had just quit. That worked with my boss, there were

two people here at the time. So I thought, I’ll stay a year. I really just wanted to mow lawns and be outside. And not do anything else, I didn’t want to be too involved. It was death and a cemetery I was a little freaked out by it. I thought oh the cemetery, I want to mow lawns downtown, not at the cemetery! But this is where they stuck me. This is where I stayed. I ended up loving it. It is a great opportunity, it’s a job obviously it pays the bills so it’s what I do everyday. But it’s a great opportunity to help the families in Concord. To help people through a process that not a lot of people know much about, not a lot of people research, and you are going through it at such a hard time. It’s not easy for anybody to go through it. I like it, I think it’s hopefully made me appreciate things a little more. Who knows what else I would have done with my life I really didn’t have a plan. So I ended up here and I consider myself very fortunate. It’s a great job.

As an architecture student I am curious about the spaces or buildings that you require. For burial? We require a vault. You mean in the ground? No I mean the support spaces. You will go to mount auburn and see a really nice building, but this where I meet families. It is great to have a place. The other building has most of the equipment in it. That has the lawn mower. You need storage for lawn mowers, you need storage for gas, you need to have the safe storage for oil, gas, any kind of chemicals that you might be using. A toolbox, a garage, you need all of that to fix whatever might break during the day, leaf blowers and all that. In here we have everything we need for a burial, so the boards that we use to go around the gravesite to make it safe for people to walk there, the artificial grass you put around the gravesite so it looks nice. The lowering device that the casket sits on. How far down does it go? Anywhere between, not typically 6 feet. I like to dig! So I’ll go 6 if I can, if ground conditions will allow for it. It’s a safety thing Some areas of the cemetery are sandy, so if you are in a hole you don’t want to be in a hole that’s going to cave in on you. So some are not that deep, Somewhere between 6 and 4 and a half feet. Are there any considerations around health and safety that are important? When digging, we do courses in trench excavation, and we have to have a hydraulics license. That license requires renewal every two years we have to go to training basically trench excavation safety. You want to make sure the air is good, you can test it. You want to know the ground conditions, they teach you the different types of soil, how you are digging. They teach you how to slope the grave, and at what degree, so it is not falling in on you in sandy soils. There’s trench boxes, sold by the industry, metal or I think there might be some wooden ones. They go in the ground to hold the sides up while you are digging. We have to wear safety boots, yellow vests if we are on the road. Working on equipment, using a chainsaw you have to have two people. The caskets are usually wood? Wood or metal. Are you getting any, there is kind of a wave of sustainable burials. Green burials. Yeah, are you getting any of those? We have had one request and not someone who needed a burial at that time, but someone who asked if we have a section for it. We don’t yet. Green

burials are basically the burials that were happening a hundred years ago here. In the 1950s is when vaults started to be used typically. We didn’t add it to our regulations until the 1990s, it wasn’t required by us but everybody was using

them. Either slate or concrete boxes or vaults. I’ve even seen them from the 30s people would build their own little brick vault, it was built in the grave. Why do you think that has changed. I don’t know because I wasn’t around then but I think people started doing it, it could have been that somebody thought of it and started to make an industry out it. It could be that, it’s

marketed that it’s a protection for the body and the casket. Because it is. You can get a grave box, concrete with one or two piece covers that just sit there not sealed that allows water in, that allows maybe faster decomposition. Or you can get a vault that is sealed like tupperware with a sealant that won’t allow anything in. I guess it is for protection of the body. We require them because when we’re digging a grave here, we’re bringing a vaco, an excavator and a truck here to this grave. So when we drive there we are obviously going to drive over somebody. That vault will hold the weight of a truck or a vaco, a casket won’t. And we still have it happen in the older sections, caskets from the 1800s will suddenly, we could be walking, just walking along and, we’ve had a bad winter, a lot of snow and a lot of water, it’ll cause the casket to deteriorate to the point where we’re walking along and there’s now only this much earth. You step and down you go. Not the best feeling, so yeah, that’s why we do require them and have since officially the early 90s. But every grave since the 50s has them. How do you think the modern cemeteries differ from the older cemeteries and how have the funerals changed? They’ve probably changed because there is more of an emphasis on maintenance. If you look at our older sections. The first cemetery in town is a hill in the center of town. You can’t get there with any piece of equipment. Just for us to get a lawnmower in there is a chore. But it couldn’t be used as farmland. And it was the first hill in the spring to thaw, so you could dig a grave again with a shovel. But horrible terrain. Cemeteries today are flat. Geared towards maintenance. That’s why we don’t allow smaller stones to be placed everywhere because you have to mow around them. Some cemeteries have gone to flat stones only. In this cemetery from the early 1950s until 1986 every section that they opened was flat stones only to make the maintenance easy. In 1986 they changed that, people wanted upright stones again. 200 years ago they were thinking about how hard it is to dig there, today we go out there with a vaco. Do you think the attitude of death has changed around those practices? Families

used to be really involved with death, they would prepare the bodies themselves. Even dig the graves themselves, the men in the family. In


the early 1900s, the undertakers, the people who took the job no one else wanted to do, started to take that away from the families and do it for them. It’s kind of like people wanted to distance themselves from it. That’s why in the 1950s they had all flat stones, one of the other purposes was to make the cemetery more park-like. So that you walk through and death wasn’t in your face. Well it’s a cemetery, that’s what it’s here for. I think. I like the upright stones. It’s not just a park, that’s not it’s purpose, it’s part of it’s purpose, to have a nice place to walk. A good example is, we have an infant section. For more than one person, they’ve have had infants that died, at birth or shortly thereafter. Family members would have the child buried before the mother was even out of the hospital. It was never spoken of again. You don’t get a headstone and you don’t go visit. It’s done, it’s over, you don’t think about it and it’s done. Now people are coming in and saying, I want to put a stone there. I should have done this, literally, 50 years ago, 56 years ago. I’m in my 80s now and I want my daughter to have a stone. People today, if that same thing were to happen, they come buy a family lot. They celebrate that infant. They invite people to come to a funeral, it’s not as cold as it was. It is acceptable to grieve a child that you never knew, back then it wasn’t something you were supposed to do. Funerals are changing a lot. It is very personalized. Everybody comes up with their own ideas. You just kind of wing it, you go with it. Every funeral is different. It’s not arriving at ten, bang, bang, bang, done and everybody leaves. Today I am going to have a violinist here and we are going to release balloons. It’s anything, whatever you come up with it what we will do. I think it’s nicer now, people are more involved in the process. It’s a celebration of life. You’re not there to grieve the death, you are sad about it, you can’t do anything more for that person. Funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living. Our purpose here is the bury the dead but to help the living, to help them through the whole process. I know so many thing about the people buried here, I am just the grave digger but the family comes in and shares all these stories about this person. How do people show the individuality of their loved ones? A lot of times it’s on the headstone, the symbolism on the headstone. If you walk around, more so here in the newer section. There will be a Red Sox symbol, or an elephant or a quilt, a bowling ball and pins. In the funeral itself. I did. You put stuff at the funeral home that meant something. We had Greenbay Packers stuff for my father. Instead of the kneeling rug in front of the casket we had a Greenbay Packers doormat. Things from his work, a hardhat, different things that meant something in his life. What about the stones themselves? Well we just got two natural stones, they didn’t want to do you basic granite, 3 by 2, scalloped top and the name on the front. They wanted to something different. I love that. I know other cemeteries probably do the same thing, better than we do, different, or maybe not at all. You might get the old gravedigger that’s like this is what we do here so, no thank you to your weird ideas. Some formalization of the process can be helpful for some people, like when you don’t know what to do at such a hard time. Other people really want to celebrate individuality. You can kind of

tell, even when I am selling a grave, you can tell. Sometimes they are here and whoever died, great grandma died, we knew this was coming, we just gotta get this done. It’s all basic. Other times, it could be great grandma again, but we need to do this, we want to make sure she is facing in certain direction. The rising sun, or the setting sun. Some religions do have requirements about direction you have to face. I think Muslim does. There was a family that wanted to face east, they were cremated. They wanted the urn to face east. No problem. The urns are just a box? We don’t have any requirements here, you can get a vault for an urn, the same concept as a casket. A concrete vault that you would put the urn and that could be sealed. Typically the crematory standard is a cardboard box or a plastic box. Then you have an option

We buried a man in his briefcase. Because he carried it with him everywhere. What better receptacle for him to go off in. It’s a different size grave, a little longer a little thinner. People have used a box their kids made in school, a special vase.

of purchasing anything. Some people make their own. You can get metal, ceramic, concrete, whatever.

We’ve had people make their own caskets too. This guy died and he used to race cars so on the side of the casket they painted the number. He was in the navy so instead of wood handles they had boat cleats and rope. Do people plan their own arrangements? Yeah but it’s pretty rare. Typically people come in and purchase a plot and I encourage them to ask their kids now if they want to be buried with them. Because 30 years from now there’s not going to be anything next to it. How many people go to a funeral home and make arrangements, a few. How

many people go a step further and come to the cemetery and plan out they want to happen here? One. I have been here for 28 years and we did have one who had everything down to the last detail. And if he changed his mind over the years he would let us all know. When he died we did exactly what he wanted. I tell people, it’s so hard to come in. Especially when there’s

been a death. You are going through something, whether you know it or not, you are having a hard time. They come in and they are spending, you know twelve hundred dollars a grave. They buy four that’s forty eight hundred dollars. They go to a funeral home they spend between 5,000 and 50,000. They are making all these decisions in two days at a really hard time. They are buying a headstone. I try to tell people, wait a while. Put a temporary marker and think about what you want. People are in a hurry to mark it, but then they think, oh I should have put a little rose in the corner because she liked roses. Take

your time. If you are going to buy a television for 400 dollars, you ask 68 your friends what they got, you look in all the ads on Sunday, you look online, you check it out,

you spend weeks on it. But when you are buying a grave or a casket you don’t call the neighbors and say hey, your mother died a few weeks back, what did you do. People just don’t talk about it. I keep saying they should teach it in school. There should be a class that goes through the basics. People don’t know what a vault is. When I started working here, I didn’t, I was like what do you mean a concrete box? I was telling my

mother about it, her mother died in 1979 and she was like, I don’t think your grandmother’s in one. She is, didn’t even know she bought one! I think it would be great if people were more educated about it. Because it’s going to happen. We

get a lot of interest, every time the Globe or the Herald does an exposed on funeral directors or the industry. Because it’s an industry no one knows anything about and no one wants to. People feel exploited. You don’t need this, you don’t need that, well

maybe you don’t need it but you want it, it will make you feel better. Or maybe you do need it. And sometimes the information out there just isn’t right. It would be nice if there were some class, through a class on aging. You made it that far, good for you. But there’s no reason a younger person shouldn’t either. People don’t know, they come here with questions. I am not an expert. I only know what I know because I work here. I fell into this job a long time ago. But I love it. I

saw a woman speak who is an advocate for green burial and for the family doing everything. No embalming, doing your own dry ice, dressing the body at the home, have the service at home, take it to the cemetery. I went to just listen. I didn’t say anything, I just wanted to know what is out there. She was talking about how vaults are bad. A person raised their hand and asked what happens to a body when it’s in a sealed vault, she said they explode. They don’t, they don’t explode, I’ve seen them. I am sitting there thinking oh my god, this whole room of people now actually thinks that. They are going to come to me know and say I don’t want a vault, I am going to explode. There should be better information out there for people. And there should be enough interest that it is okay to go look at it. I’ll talk to death to anyone, anytime. People think it is this taboo subject to talk about. It’s too bad, it shouldn’t be. Why do people choose to be buried here? I think they buy here for a sense of community. That’s why the Jewish community wanted to be buried here. They wanted to be buried here with their friends. Someone will die, two weeks later their friends call, we want to buy something near the Smiths. We figure, their kids will visit and ours won’t, so at least that way our flowers will get watered. People lived here their whole lives, and we are Sleepy Hollow, the authors are here. The first stone placed here was placed at the center of the cemetery, it was old tradition.


Anastasia Lyons (Archivist, Teacher, Designer, Boston Resident) Are there spaces in the city that make you contemplate death? Can you identify what it is about these spaces, spatially, materially, or activity-based, that triggers this contemplation? Isabella Stewart Gardner museum – moving through and around all these objects collected from one women’s life, make me think about the caricature of ourselves that some of us have the opportunity to leave behind. And all the random objects that time misplaces. And how some objects become memorialized, their meaning becomes both more and less mysterious with time. Also subway platforms, always, always, make me think about dying. I spend my daily commute between two transfers, waiting on platforms, consciously trying to keep my gaze away from the black pit of the subway tracks. Is there a specific cemetery that you have memories associated with? Please explain how this cemetery has impacted you. The town cemetery in Amherst, Massachusetts, which was right next to my apartment when I lived there. The kitchen window over the sink where I

washed dishes looked out over the old gravestones, one of which belonged to Emily Dickenson. I had a habit of walking from the bus stop through the cemetery on my way home (choosing that path over others) and having imagined

conversations with the cemetery’s inhabitants. People left strange objects on the historic graves. A plastic penguin, some coins, a wad of rubber bands – all things that seemed to signify nothing and would’ve likely annoyed Ms Dickenson. Sometimes I removed them (on her behalf), sometimes I complained aloud that even though I walked by her grave every day I felt I was no closer to understanding her poetry. I heard that a friend of mine, Ian, left a party I held to have sex with his girlfriend in that cemetery, which as a minute fact has always kind of amazed me. Who fucks against a gravestone? But then again, why not? Maybe the dead enjoy it. How often do you think about your own mortality? Probably think about it most days. How do spaces in the city make you feel alone?

Spaces that seem out of scale and relatively unoccupied make me feel lonely. Like the wide, pedestrian-free streets of the seaport that run between the fat glassy rectangles of faceless buildings. Something about how wind-swept it feels makes me want to run indoors. I think to some degree I would feel lonely there even in the

company of friends. How do spaces in the city make you feel like you are part of a community or larger whole?

Spaces that are occupied and also allow only for foot-traffic – the path down Commonwealth Avenue, or the paths

through the Common, make me feel a part of a living city that manifests its desires in formal expression – the whole Emerald necklace really. The footpaths and stairways up Aspinwall hill in Brookline where I live where I frequently run into neighbors, or walk a little too close by their living room windows in the evening, make me feel a part of the community that I live in, that I can know and share its secret spaces. How do you get to work or school? These day it’s always the train. How many different routes do you usually take to get to work/school? What makes you take one route over another? When I drove I would take a different route in the morning and evening as a rule, to keep myself from getting bored, alternating at random which one would be the morning route and which would be the evening route. With the train ride I can seek no such variation. In fact I keep variation to absolute minimum: I walk to the same part of the platform at every stop on every day, and I exit the same side of the train and take the same stairwell. When I arrive near work I walk outside on the edge of the harbor to the office, following the blue line painted on the pavement (every day the same unless the weather is horrible and I’m forced into an endless, 360 degree beige junkspace hallway full of echoes). My goal is to escape as much of conscious presence as possible during my train commute, escaping into novels and soundtrack, until I’m at the ocean’s edge and there I let myself come back awake to the sea-wind and brilliant light. Have you ever experienced the death of a significant person in your life? If so, what about the funeral or burial stood out to you? Was there something specific you would have changed? Consider sequence, time, space. Last year a close friend of mine died from a battle with cancer, she was younger than me, and was going to be a doctor. She lived near Audubon Circle and there’s a park just off St Mary’s T-stop where she would go to read and relax (and take boys, although that bit wasn’t mentioned during the ceremony). Apparently she had told many people this was a place of solace for her. So we gathered in a circle on a rainy day, the tree limbs and the grass darkly saturated with wet, and stood around sculpture in a small clearing and talked about Claire’s life and how she was a gift to all of us. They scattered her ashes from a footbridge over the small pond in the park, while children played with a soccer ball some small distance away. I was struck by the

unexpected attachment to this seemingly insignificant space, the everyday-ness of it made something about what we were doing seem easier, it seemed easier to think that Claire could stay with us, that death wasn’t such a mountainous thing and that it had its own real, everydayness not unlike an insignificant landscape of a comfortable city park. I wondered how many public spaces in this city have likewise been imbued with the memorization of other’s past lives, and how many of those memorials I may have moved through in my life unknowingly. Mieke Prins (Student, Designer, Somerville Resident) Are there spaces in the city that make you contemplate death? Can you identify what it is about these spaces, spatially, materially, or activity-based, that triggers this contemplation? The white bikes, for the people who got hit by cars. Is there a specific cemetery that you have memories associated with? Please explain how this cemetery has impacted you. No. How often do you think about your own mortality? As a real thing, not so often. As a fantasy, like once a week. How do spaces in the city make you feel alone? Too many people. When you can oversee everything. If I can hide behind a shrub/bush because I have to pee. How do spaces in the city make you feel like you are part of a community or larger whole?

Outdoor seating, personalized markings.

How do you get to work or school? Bike How many different routes do you usually take to get to work/school? What makes you take one route over another? One if I take another one, then there is another destination in between. Have you ever experienced the death of a significant person in your life? If so, what about the funeral or burial stood out to you? Was there something 70 specific you would have changed? Consider sequence, time, space. Not really

Adam Bezigian (Scientist, Somerville Resident) Are there spaces in the city that make you contemplate death? Can you identify what it is about these spaces, spatially, materially, or activity-based, that triggers this contemplation? Alleys and places where I know that people sleep outside, especially in the winter and at night, when living outside can present real peril. The fact that I am walking next to a situation where survival is far less guaranteed makes me a little ashamed of the wealth disparity that exists between me the people who might be sleeping there, especially that I am unwilling/unable to directly or significantly affect their situation. Is there a specific cemetery that you have memories associated with? Please explain how this cemetery has impacted you. I’ve gone bird watching at the Mt. Auburn cemetery a few times and the memories that I have of that place are very pleasant. It’s more of a

Disney version of nature than a place that is mostly about death. I can remember the types of birds that I saw and

how excited I was to identify them and imagined that the dead were pretty happy that I was straight up having a good time near them, not just walking around with hands crossed. My dad’s dad is buried in Milford, MA and we occasionally go to his grave site. He died when I was very young and I don’t remember him. Seeing our family name on a headstone sticks out in my mind especially, since it’s an uncommon name and I’m unlikely to see it anywhere else in public. How often do you think about your own mortality? Frequently. How do spaces in the city make you feel alone?

When I’m in a bad mood, I hate having to handle the minor interpersonal negotiations and interactions that come with living in a city: moving around people on the sidewalk, waiting for cars to finish their turns before entering the crosswalk, etc. I would

much rather walk in a straight line and pretend that there isn’t anyone else there. How do spaces in the city make you feel like you are part of a community or larger whole? Similarly, when I’m in a good mood, these tiny interactions make me feel like everyone else is a part of the same organism and I’m doing my part to help upkeep it. It’s not pride exactly but close enough. How do you get to work or school? Since my office is at home, “traveling to work” could mean putting on slippers and sitting down at my computer. Most of the time I travel to my customer’s sites, though, so 98% of the time I drive, which is probably what you’re asking. Rarely, I walk or take the T if I know exactly what I’m going to do and what I’ll need that day. How many different routes do you usually take to get to work/school? What makes you take one route over another? It depends on where I’m going. I have my set paths to get to certain areas, but I’ll change it up according to the time of day and if I’m feeling “adventurous.” Have you ever experienced the death of a significant person in your life? If so, what about the funeral or burial stood out to you? Was there something specific you would have changed? Consider sequence, time, space. No. My grandfathers died when I was very young and my great-grandmother died when I was in college but I didn’t have an especially strong relationship with any of them. I can remember velvet drapes and fake plants in the funeral home where my mom’s dad’s services were held. I was told that I was to be one of my great-grandmother’s pallbearers several minutes before it happened. The fact that something like this, which I imagined to be a solemn and significant rite, wasn’t worked out in advance made me anxious would have preferred that the moment was more fully considered to give the act what I perceive as its proper decorum.

and a little sad. I

Wei Gao (Designer, Traveler) Are there spaces in the city that make you contemplate death? Can you identify what it is about these spaces, spatially, materially, or activity-based, that triggers this contemplation? Elevators do. It could be because of the stories I’ve heard about elevator accidents. Funeral homes do, for obvious reasons. Is there a specific cemetery that you have memories associated with? Please explain how this cemetery has impacted you.

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. It was the first time I stared at tombstones. Before that I haven’t seen a cemetery in urban setting. I liked how close I was to the graves from the street. It made me think of the people buried as complex individuals with stories rather than a collective concept. How often do you think about your own mortality? Not very often. But it’s usually when things are going well in life, and I would think that I am content at this moment with death. How do spaces in the city make you feel alone?

I feel alone when my state of mind/consciousness is very different from people around me but we are in a small space. For example 11pm on the T on a Friday night.

How do spaces in the city make you feel like you are part of a community or larger whole? Sitting on a bench at a city square with strangers always make me feel like a part of the community, even though I don’t know these people. How do you get to work or school? T or bike How many different routes do you usually take to get to work/school? What makes you take one route over another? Two. It depends on the weather. Better weather = long route. Have you ever experienced the death of a significant person in your life? If so, what about the funeral or burial stood out to you? Was there something specific you would have changed? Consider sequence, time, space.

Omar’s parents’ funerals. I liked when people told anecdotes. It was heart-warming and feel more like a other parts of the service.

celebration of their life than


John Wagner (Designer, Somerville Resident) Are there spaces in the city that make you contemplate death? Can you identify what it is about these spaces, spatially, materially, or activity­based, that triggers this contemplation? The market basket on somerville avenue has a pleasant break in the townscape where the cemetary is wedged between the parking lot and the asian supermarket. This space is a bright, inviting surface where the old graves lay. The beacon hill cemetary in the middle of the city has a far more solomn feeling: shaded, between cavernous towers, and unkept. These two places give me contending notions of death. Is there a specific cemetery that you have memories associated with? Please explain how this cemetery has impacted you. in the far back of a popular cemetary, there on a west facing hillside, the grounds keeperoverlooks the unkept grass. beneath the tree line and down from the service road, there are ahandful of gravestones on the slope. How often do you think about your own mortality? sometimes How do spaces in the city make you feel alone?

Hearing the street from within a courtyard is a very nice feeling of isolation. this is rare feeling in american cities, but the courtyard on prospect and mass ave between the towers is a delightful condition. How do spaces in the city make you feel like you are part of a community or larger whole? Parade grounds are an important physical space for the people. How do you get to work or school? bike How many different routes do you usually take to get to work/school? What makes you take one route over another? brevity Have you ever experienced the death of a significant person in your life? If so, what about the funeral or burial stood out to you? Was there something specific you would have changed? Consider sequence, time, space. I choose not to answer

Mara Eyllon (Student, PHD Candidate in Epidemiology, Somerville resident) Are there spaces in the city that make you contemplate death? Can you identify what it is about these spaces, spatially, materially, or activity-based, that triggers this contemplation? The subway. Inside, waiting by the trains I get very nervous when I see children running around near the edge of the subway. I also fear my foot getting caught between the subway door and the platform. Is there a specific cemetery that you have memories associated with? Please explain how this cemetery has impacted you. Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord is where my brother was buried last year. It’s a new annex to a very old cemetery, so it’s very spacious. My mom likes to plant things there like lavender and rosemary and leave rocks. How often do you think about your own mortality? Really for the first times this past year, after my brother died so suddenly. It’s given me a stronger sense that life is fleeting, though I feel pretty accepting of this. I think I am less scared of death, my own and others since losing him. I know I can get through the worst now and I won’t be here to grieve my own death anyway, so it doesn’t really do any good to worry about it. How do spaces in the city make you feel alone? How do spaces in the city make you feel like you are part of a community or larger whole? Public libraries in particular make me feel connected to the city. When I’m in a library I feel like I have something in common with everyone else there—just that desire to be in a public library feels like a strong connection in and of itself. Downtown Crossing also makes me feel part of something bigger, maybe it’s all

the people of different walks of life together in the same space, passing one

another by. The only time I really feel alone in the city is when I’m totally lost. I remember being lost in Rio, and not speaking the language and feeling alone. Traveling in foreign cities, or unfamiliar cities alone makes me feel alone, but not necessarily in a bad way. I like being alone at times.

I like sitting alone in parks—I find the idea of being alone and surrounded by people in a familiar place to be comforting—for example sitting in a park in Boston or by the Charles.

How do you get to work or school? The subway, sometimes the bus and walking How many different routes do you usually take to get to work/school? What makes you take one route over another? I take the bus if I have time to walk 25 minutes to the bus and then to school, especially on nice days, but occasionally in the winter. Have you ever experienced the death of a significant person in your life? If so, what about the funeral or burial stood out to you? Was there something specific you would have changed? Consider sequence, time, space. Yes, my brother died last year. I hadn’t realized how many logistical considerations and money go into securing a burial site. It was strange having to make all of those decisions while grieving the death of a loved one. It was also strange that we purchased a site where my parents would be buried too, and discussing how many people would fit in the site; I think each site allows for one burial and two cremains. I told my parents I did not want to decide where to be buried yet at that time, although I am certain I want to be cremated. I have a slight fear of being able to feel my body decomposing under the earth and I’d rather avoid that, even though I know it’s technically an irrational fear. I do like the idea of gravestone however. Having a tangible mark that I was here would be nice, even if I won’t experience it myself. Joe Hibbard (Landscape Architect, Principal, Sasaki Associates)


Mount Auburn Cemetery was the first rural cemetery, opened in 1831 it changed the concept of burial. The cemetery spurred a public parks movement. Its construction was both practical and philosophical. The inner city cemeteries were overcrowded (practical). Philosophically, the cemetery took inspiration from the Trancendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller). The idea was to go back to nature. The cemetery was about life in contrast to the christian view of fear and gloom. Melancholy was seen as positive, as was exposure to death especially at a young age. Liminal states were of particular interest, for example twilight between night and day, and childhood.

A row of tombs, death comes nearer.

A tombstone pokes up in the road, a surprise.

A glade of conifers overlooks a glen. The glen reflects the sky. “Schools of Life.�


BIBLIOGRAPHY Bearak, Barry. “Dead Join the Living in a Family Celebration” The New York Times. September 6, 2010. The New York Times Online. Retrieved October 26, 2016 < html?pagewanted=all> Barbieri, Giuseppe and Mazzariol, Guiseppe (Introduction). Carlo Scarpa 1906-1978. Electa. Milano: Electa Editrice. 1984 Beck, Julie. “What Good is Thinking about Death” The Atlantic. May 28, 2015. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved October 26, 2015 <> Bowman, Emma. “From Facebook To A Virtual You: Planning Your Digital Afterlife.” National Public Radio. February 12, 2015. NPR Online. Retrieved October 26, 2015 < alltechconsidered/2015/02/12/385753136/from-facebook-to-a-virtual-you-planning-your-digital-afterlife> A discussion of virtual life after death. Dal Co, Francesco. 10 Immagini Per Venezia. Officina edizioni, 1980. Raimond Abraham, Rafael Moneo, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Aldo Rossi, and other’s designs for Venice. De Sousa, Ana Naomi “Death in the City: what happens when all our cemeteries are full?” The Guardian. January 21, 2015. Online Periodical. Retrieved October 26, 2015 <> The current death crisis in the news. Derrida, Jacques, and Pascale Brault. The Work of Mourning. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2001. Print. Deconstructionist theories of dealing with death buried in a set of memories. Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. New York: A.A. Knopf, 2005. Print. A personal account of grief and mourning with good scholarly resources on the psychology of death. Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces,” Diacritics 16 (Spring 1986), 22-27. Cemetery as Heterotopia Halime, Farah. “Avante-Garde Afterlife: Space Shortage Inspires New Burial Ideas” National Public Radio. December 13, 2014. NPR online. Retrieved October 26, 2015 <> Hays, Michael. Sanctuaries: The Last Work of John Hejduk. New York: Whitney Museum of Art. 2002 Hejduk, John. Such Places as Memory: Poems 1953-1996. Boston: MIT. 1998. Sentences on the House and other sentences. Killing, Alison. (2014, October) There’s a Better Way to Die, and Architecture can Help [Video File] Retrieved from <> Death in Venice Exhibition 2014 Venice Biennale. Death has become sanitized. Kirk, Terry. The Architecture of Modern Italy. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2005. 199-213. Print. A good comparison of Scarpa and Rossi’s architecture of death. Lee, Jae Rhim. (2011, July) My Mushroom Burial Suit [Video file]. Retrieved October 26, 2015 < talks/jae_rhim_lee?language=en> An artist trains mushrooms to eventually digest her body. Mead, Rebecca. “Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Funeral Director Wants to Bring Death Back Home.” The New Yorker. November 30, 2015. Interesting take on modern funerary practices and eco-burials Magidsohn, Alli. “Graves That Save: The rise of the sustainable death movement” Good Magazine. December 22, 2013. 74

Online Periodical. Retrieved October 26, 2015 <> An account of modern techniques for treating bodies. Manteuffel, Rachel. “The Things The Leave Behind: Artifacts From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial” Washingtonian Magazine. October 24, 2012. Online Periodical. Retrieved December 7, 2015. < articles/people/the-things-they-leave-behind-artifacts-from-the-vietnam-veterans-memorial/> An article about the things people leave behing at the Vietnam Memorial, the documentation of these leftovers and the storage space required to store them. May, Kate Torgovnick. “Death is Not the End: Fascinating Funeral Traditions from Around the Globe” TEDtalks blog online. October 1, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2015 <> Mitford, Jessica. The American Way of Death. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963. Print. An expose into the American funeral industry’s monopoly on the culture of death. Mitford, Jessica. The American Way of Death Revisited. Rev. ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. Print. A sequel to her first book, updated 20 years later. Mumford, Lewis. “Social Basis of the New Urban Order.” The Culture of Cities. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1938. Print. Monumentality and death are out, cyclical renewal and life are in. Mydans, Seth. “At Royal Balinese Funeral, Bodies Burn and Souls Fly” The New York Times. July 16, 2008. The New York Times Online. Retrieved October 25, 2016 <> A description of a Balinese funeral ceremony. Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Space of Time. Oz. v.20 1998, pp54-57. An essay on the mental, imaginary, and physical worlds. Ranalli, George (Introduction). Carlo Scarpa Drawings from the Brion Family Cemetery. Yale school of Architecture: USA, 1984. Scarpa’s Brion Vega sketches and words about the burial. Roach, Mary. The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: W. W. Norton And Company. 2003. Print. A tale on the history of corpss, their contributions to science, and what happens to the body after death. Roberts, Barbara. “A Culture in Denial.” Death without Denial, Grief without Apology: A Guide for Facing Death and Loss. Troutdale, Or.: NewSage :, 2002. Print. A guide for dealing with death that looks at societal and personal issues surrounding death and grief Rossi, Aldo, and Peter Eisenman. The Architecture of the City. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 1982. Print. Collective memory S, Philippe. Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1974. Print. An account of the growing cultural fear and avoidance of death. Tschumi, Bernard. Architecture and Disjunction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 1994. Print. Memory and death, rot, death as taboo Warner, Andy. The Palace of Ashes. San Francisco: Second edition printing. 2014. Print. A comic about the displacement of graves in San Francisco and the saving of the Colombarium. Wills, Garry. “ Gettysburg and the Culture of Death” from Lincoln at Gettysbury. New York: Literary Research Inc. 1992. Print. A text about the culture of death in the 1800s, particularly Mount Auburn. Zabalbeascoa, Anatxu. Igualada Cemetery: Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos Architecture in Detail. London: Series Phaidon Press Ltd, 1996. Print



430 Mcgrath Hwy #2 Somerville, MA 02143 6 4 6 . 4 3 8 . 3 2 7 1 OCCUPATIONAL EXPERIENCE


2013 - Current Studio Echelman Brookline, Massachusetts Designing Public Spaces, Massive Aerial Installations, 3d Modeling, Creating Presentations, Discussing Ideas

Current Boston Architectural College Candidate for Masters of Architecture Boston, Massachusetts

2013 - Current Boston Architectural College Teaching Assistant Contemporary Architecture and Sustainable Material Assemblies June - August 2014 G.H. Bruce Tensile Architecture Tucson, Arizona Designed and Built Tensile Shade Structures, Website and Book Design September 2011 - March 2012 Cicognani Kalla Architects New York, New York Hand Drafting, Computer Drafting, Model Making, 3D Rendering June - September 2012 Fail Better Farms Etna, Maine Planted and Harvested Organic Vegetables, Built Hoop House 2008-2009 May- August Levenson McDavid Architects Brooklyn, New York Computer Drafting, Material Sampling, Passive House Research, 3D Rendering


2007 - 2011 McGill University Faculty of Science: Psychology, Art History Montreal, Quebec 2010 Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts Architecture Fontainebleau, France SKILLS AND INTERESTS Adobe, AutoCAD, Sketchup Rhino, Maya, Animating and 3d Modeling Sketching, Watercolor, Film Photography Model Making, Hand Modeling, CNC, 3D Printing, Lasercut Extensive Travel AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIPS Steffian Bradley Portfolio Award 2014 Adeline Graves Fournier Sketchbook Prize 2014 Hurst Scholarship 2015 LECTURES Opening talk for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Echoes of the Cityâ&#x20AC;? exhibition at Sasaki Architects

Profile for Lucca Townsend

A Cemetery in the City  

Thesis Proposal

A Cemetery in the City  

Thesis Proposal