Refugium: the New Mexico Tree Memorial

J.D. Scott | Atkin Olshin Schade Architects


( Concept )

Researchers predict that the American Southwest will lose 72% of its coniferous forests by 2050. With intensifying drought and global temperatures, these ecosystems are expected to vanish by 2100. This project envisions a museum dedicated to the issue of ecosystem loss using a prototypical site in Northern New Mexico, the epicentre of this crisis.

The design concept consists of three components:

Repository – an advocacy centre designed to tell the story of forest mortality to visitors, both today and in the far future.

Refugium - an enclosed arboretum that preserves a plot of native forest for research and the enjoyment of future generations.

Necropolis - a grove of carbon sequestration structures placed on the remains of fallen trees. Over deep time, carbon from the atmosphere accretes on these structures through mineral carbonation, creating monolithic forms memorializing the forest that was lost.

This project imagines a dual role for museums of the Anthropocene. In a time of environmental collapse, museums must become places for mourning, memory, and respite, while serving as advocates for systemic change: urgent warnings to places where native ecosystems might still be saved, and storytelling devices to visitors on a geologic timescale.


Refugium (left) and Necropolis (right)

Project Team
J.D. Scott | Atkin Olshin Schade Architects
Project Name
Refugium: the New Mexico Tree Memorial
Team Location
United States, Sante Fe (NM)
Architecture & Design