Biobank

Biobank

A new American institution. Liberty State Park, New Jersey.

M.Arch. Thesis, presented December 13, 2010.

This project started out simple – I was trying to think of how, if cryogenic freezing of bodies was really going to catch on, we were going to house this many bodies and ensure temperature control… indefinately. What I ended up with, after almost a year of research, was a more complicated understanding of bio-tech and gene science, as well as privacy and bureaucracy. Essentially, what I found was that our biological material, be it blood, hair, urine, or ‘other’, was being collected and used all the time – both for medical research and out of habit and testing. One of the major hurdles to meaningful genetic research at the same time is not having a broad enough range of samples (funding is often only for specific groups like the elderly or people from certain backgrounds). By combining all of the existing biological collections (like Yale’s brain collection! and like the cards with a drop of blood on them that are collected from every baby born in the US), we’d have a much more robust and meaningful/useful database. And, because all this material is already being collected, it doesn’t pose any further risk to privacy/anonymity, beyond what is already demanded of us as patients (which many are squeamish about, but is nonetheless the case).

The Biobank in this project is planned as a singular American institution in Liberty State Park, just across New York Harbor from downtown Manhattan. It serves at once as a repository for bio-data and material and also as an education center and health research facility. The landscape mounds are filled with Regulated Medical Waste (RMW), the sterilized and ground up material collected from doctor’s offices in those red biohazard containers. As the Biobank grows, so does the landscape, simultaneously providing fill for an area in danger of submersion due to sea level rise.