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Karla Rothstein

Karla Rothstein is an architect and an educator. Teaching graduate design studios at Columbia GSAPP for over eighteen years, Rothstein is Founder and Director of DeathLAB, a trans-disciplinary research and design initiative focused on reconceiving how we live with death in the city. Her areas of inquiry span the intimate spaces of urban life, death and memory, to intersections of social justice and infrastructure.

Through her teaching and research, Rothstein aims to redefine urban spaces of death and remembrance, securing civic space for the future metropolis. In 2013, Rothstein was honored as a finalist for Columbia University’s Presidential Teaching Award. In addition to her teaching, Rothstein is an active member of Columbia University’s interdisciplinary Seminar on Death. In 2013, her essay ”Reconfiguring Urban Spaces of Disposal, Sanctuary and Remembrance” was published in the two-volume anthology Our Changing Journey to the End: The New Realities and Controversies of Dying in America. Rothstein’s work on civic-sacred space has been published on NPR, WIRED.jp, OZY and Uncube. An article on DeathLAB’s ambition, “MAKING LIGHT OF DEATH: At Columbia’s DeathLab, the search for a cleaner, smarter alternative to burial is a deeply serious matter”, is featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Columbia Magazine.

Rothstein co-founded LATENT Productions with Salvatore Perry to harness the specific potential embedded within each design project, celebrating innovative spatial and material qualities. Rigorously conceived and executed, LATENT’s projects are an alchemical celebration of concept, context, and opportunity. A house on Ballston Lake, comprised of 150,000 pounds of precast concrete, Rothstein’s first built work, has been featured in multiple international publications. It is the only house in the US included in the book In DETAIL: Single Family Houses (Birkhäuser, 2000) and is included in Kenneth Frampton’s anthology, American Masterworks (Rizzoli, 2008). 20+22 Renwick, a proposal for an 11-story building that challenges NYC zoning interpretation, received a Progressive Architecture Award Citation in 2001. In 2014, LATENT Productions received an AIANY Honor Award for Runner&Stone, a bakery-bar-restaurant in Gowanus, NY.

LATENT’s concrete Belly Blocks, cast into flour sacks emptied by the baker, were a finalist in Architizer’s “A+ Awards, Architecture + Materials,” and the design of the restaurant was selected as NYC Archtober’s “Building of the Day” in 2014. In 2015, Latent’s Constellation Park project placed third in an international competition for new ways of memorializing the dead. A model of the project was sold by Christie’s at a charity auction and displayed at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. In 2016, LATENT and DeathLAB won an international competition for the “First Future Cemetery” in Bristol, England.

In 2015, Rothstein was honored by Built by Women New York City (BxW NYC), an organization that celebrates the leadership and achievements of women working in the building professions. Rothstein and Kartik Chandran received an Earth Institute Cross Cutting Initiative grant to perform a scientific study of anaerobic bioconversion as a new method to decompose human remains. She was also named a finalist in the J.M. Kaplan Innovation Prize. Supported by the Jacob Javits Fellowship in Fine Arts from 1988–1992, William Kinne Traveling Fellowship in 1992, and the New York Foundation for the Art in 2000, Rothstein’s professional and academic work has been exhibited at multiple venues and featured in various publications. These include: Storefront for Art and Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Barnard College, Columbia University, Van Alen Institute, Max Protetch Gallery, the Center for Architecture, Sir John Soane’s Museum, architizer.com, Gizmodo, Architecture magazine, Casabella, The New York Times, London Financial Times, National Public Radio, OZY.com, Wallpaper City Guide NYC, WIREDjp, and Uncube.


Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A4102‑4 Spring 2020
Tending: Intertwined Impact
Arch rothstein ayaabdallah sp20 3 section
Arch karlarothstein cohaulchen sp20 5 perspectivesection sm
Coreii rothstein hazel villena sp20 01 cutaway
Karla Rothstein Syllabus
0 Points
A4853‑10 Summer 2019
Urban Palimpsests
Drawing by Yanan Cheng and Sirenia Kim
Rendering by Yanan Cheng and Sirenia Kim
Rendering by Yanan Cheng and Sirenia Kim
Karla Rothstein Syllabus
0 Points
A4102‑4 Spring 2019
Archive of Absence: A Gradient of Life and Death
Cross Section Drawing by Anirudh Chandar
Model by Anirudh Chandar
Section Perspective by Anirudh Chandar
M, W, & F 2 PM - 6 PM
0 Points