Back in the day, an Old-School New Yorker might tell someone to fuck off by yelling, Drop dead! This wasn’t meant literally, of course, but statistically speaking, tens of thousands of New Yorkers do take up the offer every year, with burials clocking in at a rate of 500,000 per decade. That takes up a lot of real estate, especially, it seems, in Queens. (Question: Why are there so many giant cemeteries near NYC airports? It’s unnerving to pass them on your way to catching your flight.) If you’re looking in the Five Boroughs for your eternal resting place, you might as well forget it: Places like Greenwood Cemetery are practically booked up. It’s a problem in need of solving.
Enter a Columbia University-based design group with the very Metal name of DeathLab. It’s mission: to “transform civic infrastructure with spaces of remembrance.” Naturally this leads to some outside-the-casket thinking, like their proposal to inter the dearly departed in “death pods” suspended under the Manhattan Bridge.
Dubbed Constellation Park, the project isn’t meant for permanent entombment: Instead, the pods are temporary receptacles for bodies as they are consumed by “anaerobic microbial digestion,” which has the advantage, apparently, of creating glow-in-the-dark corpses that form the twinkling points of light suggested by the name. Once a body decomposes, another takes its place. Think of it as a hot-sheet motel to the great beyond.
While the death pods look like something out of Alien, they’re also kind of cool in a creepy sort of way. Constellation Park will never be realized, but it’s nice to know that someone is pondering the issue so you don’t have to.