Fatal Design


The great public cemeteries in the United States all began as monumental landscapes, playgrounds for the picturesque, where the growing middle classes both buried their dead and took refuge from the rapidly industrializing cities. There they could contemplate the “sweet hereafter” in a setting with an obvious kinship to Central Park or the leafy suburbs, then rising as part of the same cultural forces that created the modern cemetery. Still, these silent cities evolved from a social form that gave us a range of civic institutions including the temple and the astronomical observatory, the theater, and the university. But where has this great social form gone in the last century? Fatal Design tells the tale through the rich holdings of the Environmental Design Archives and Library.

Fatal design follows the changing fate of death, which, while final, is anything but static.  It has been said that death replaced sex as the central taboo of modern society.  Changing attitudes towards death have changed the architecture of death.


Environmental Design Library – Volkmann Reading Room
210 Wurster Hall, University of California, Berkeley
Raymond Lifchez and Judith Lee Stronach Exhibition Cases

Exhibition Dates: October 31, 2008 – Jan 16, 2009
Directions & Hours: www.lib.berkeley.edu/ENVI/hours.html

Curators: Andrew Shanken, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture; Waverly Lowell, Curator, Environmental Design Archives