Tower Tomb Design Competition

New York, NY

Client: Memorial Awareness Board (MAB), UK
Entered: 1993
Project Team:
Roger Robison, AIA, Designer
David S. Tobin, AIA, Designer
Vladislav Yeliseyev, Rendering

Awards: Lidster Trophy – 2nd Prize



observe architects David Tobin and Roger Robison, who were recently awarded the Lidster Trophy in the total concept category for their submission to an annual design competition sponsored by the Memorial Advisory Bureau in London. “Their bodies are taken away to unfamiliar surroundings which are beautiful but have no relevance to their lives,” explains Tobin. The New York architects’ proposal would provide the city’s denizens eternal rest in a high-rise mortuary structure overlooking Central Park near Columbus Circle. Above the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan, city dwellers would always be a part of the place in which they built their dreams.

Evoking the city’s complex mosaic, interlocking stone plates form the massive walls of the tower. The plates create niches into which hundreds of thousands of small, multicolored caskets-holding the ashes of the interred and their life stories [in digital memory]- are randomly stacked. An open atrium soars 50 stories above a reflecting pool on ground level. Chapels, terraces, and rooftop cafe provide space for meditation and quiet conversation. As loved ones access the digital milestones of a lifetime, late twentieth century technology comes to terms with death.

According to Tobin and Robison, the political and economic reality of death in the modern urban context necessitates such high-volume occupancy. Furthermore, the conflation of the skyscraper with the historical archetype of the tomb would add a profound, if slightly morbid, dimension to the modern city skyline. Death will no longer be reduced to selective press coverage but, rather, become an integral part of the urban terrain and its psyche.

Allan Isaac – METROPOLIS – the magazine of architecture and design, march 1994