RIP Rod Garrett

Rod Garrett, 2010. Photo by John Curley.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rod Garrett, the long-time architect and designer of Black Rock City.

Since 1997, Rod has guided the Black Rock City urban design, overseeing its evolution from a functional plan to provide structure to a desert encampment of 10,000 to supporting a thriving metropolis of 50,000+, always with an eye towards form, function, elegance and the development of community. In addition to his urban planning role, Rod also designed Black Rock City’s major infrastructural elements, including the Center Camp Café, and every Man base since 1997.

Through his work over the years, Rod has made considerable contributions to the Burning Man community, for Rod’s particular genius was understanding the importance and power of design as it relates to social interaction and cultural development. Rod’s brilliance, passion and dedication to his craft will be sorely missed by the Burning Man organization.

Many of Rod’s writings about designing Black Rock City can be found in the Metropol Blog Series.

This year, the road encircling Black Rock City’s Center Camp will be named “Rod’s Road” in his honor.

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

24 Comments on “RIP Rod Garrett

  • Annie says:

    That is so sad, I’m sorry to hear of Rod’s passing. A huge heartfelt thanks to him for his wonderful contributions throughout the years, from an appreciative burner since 2000. Sincerest condolences to his family, blood and Burning Man.

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  • free says:

    How when and where? This doesn’t say much about his passing. Did he have family besides burners? Anyone we should write to with our condolences? More complete info please

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  • Tim (Kaia) Dallas says:

    So sad to hear this. Condolences to Rod’s family along with gratitude for their support for him and their willingness to watch him soar in the amazing gifts he provided to this community over the years.
    Just one thought……why not go “REAL BIG” and change the name of the Esplanade this year to the “Rodsplenade” in his honor. Just a thought that shot through my mind as I was writing this.
    I know, as do we all, that he will surely be on the playa next week…..and every Burning Man week to come.

    *love is “one”, “one” for all*

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  • Jason Silverio says:

    Thank you Rod!

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  • roxanne says:

    My deepest condolences to his close relatives and tribe.
    I had never seen anything so exquisite and beautiful upon viewing Burning Man as a city. Thank you Rod, even though I never met you I feel a sympathy and a sadness at your passing. That, mixed with my experience of your creation, has me feeling heartbreak and a breakthrough. Your lifeforce on this planet has left a mark on mine as well as millions of others for all time.
    I will be stealing a street sign for you this year.
    )'( <3 U.

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  • “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
    — Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)

    I was so saddened to hear of Rod’s death but found comfort that he picked a year with an appropriate theme. You did make a new stage for that very famous Jacobs statement above. Morso methinks than many urban planners ever or architects or landscape architects around now.

    I plan on taking more than one moment to enjoy and reflect upon his contribution, which accommodates so well theory made places and vernacular spaces.

    In practical but sentimental reflective moments out there, I will not forget the assistance he gave BRAF in 2007. You took a silly girls folly for Hundertwasser and made it a thing dear sir.!

    with warmest thoughts to the sorrow of your loved ones.

    Melissa Alexander

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  • SusieQ says:

    I’m a Baby Burner knowing I am in store for the experience of a lifetime. But I have still caught the spirit and passion of Burning Man online before the event. Tho I have much to learn about the history and traditions of Burning Man, I am so very sad to hear of Rod’s passing. Thank you for honoring him like you do and keeping his spirit alive. I look forward to seeing his personal “installation” at the Temple.

    Thank you for sharing with the rest of us.

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  • Franko says:

    condolences and deep, deep respect. i think that the name change should be PERMANENT, and his connection to the history of burning man be told to all every year.

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  • Tarrell says:

    Thank you for all of your kind words and support. For those of you who asked where to send condolences, we will be setting up a memorial fund to the burning man project in the near future. We just need a few days to chill first. Rod would have appreciates the love and I know that my mom, his daughters and I are all buoyed knowing that you’re out there running around Rod’s road in his honor.

    -Tarrell (step-daughter) and Kerry VanderMeer(his wife)

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  • Daniel says:

    I never med you Rod but saw & enjoyed the years of your amazing work… so thank you from us all & we will appreciated all that you gave to BRC; Peace, Love & Playa Dust !!!

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  • HK says:

    I like to imagine myself a bit of a student of the physical history or evolution of our city and my gratitude to Mr. Garrett is boundless. If I never returned to BRC again I have a plethora of images deep in my brain that will give me joy for many years to come and these images find their font on the streets he plotted.
    The bases he provided for the Man are indelible to us all and when we dwell upon the chronology of our individual burns we see these pedestals so very clearly.
    Thank you, Mr. Garrett, thank you.

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  • Bob Stahl says:

    Best wishes to his family and those close to him. I feel proud to have worked with Rod.

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  • mooster says:

    I was sad to here of your passing, I hope love is all around you, your beautiful topology inspired and touched me, xxxxx

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  • JacQuaeline says:

    Well done. Blessings, hugs to those who mourn – what a brilliant contribution to millions of lives.

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  • RnoRenee says:

    Thank you Rod and Blessed Be on your new journey.
    I have often marveled and felt great gratitude for the divinely inspired and genius layout of this city we call Home. I loved the aforementioned idea of changing Esplanade to Rodsplanade this year and permanently naming the outer road Rod’s Road… then you will be at the center and circumference… how aprapo!
    Profound Peace and Comfort to your family and loved ones.

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  • claire says:

    Thank you. Rod’s Road rules! You will continue to bring joy to thousands. What a fine legacy.

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  • dj riz says:

    although we never met him we ‘ know the tree from the fruit it bears’. our family wishes strength and comfort to all who mourn.his passing and joy beyond measure to all who celebrate his life. we can’t go this year, but can’t wait to traverse ‘rod’s road’ next year. hip hop hooray !

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  • Kelley Garrett says:

    My father treasured the priceless gifts of nature. His route to ensure these gifts were perpetuated was to create public works of art that shift our society towards a sustainable integration with the natural world. In seeking Rod – free your passions, tap your creative forces, and wonder at beauty. We are made of the same stuff.

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  • Papa says:

    RIP Rod Garrett… The Burning Man community mourns your loss but celebrates your spirit and all that you have done your us.

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  • Emily Duffy says:

    Dear Friends,

    I’ve sent the link for this page to Rod’s partner/wife and I’m sure she’ll be checking here to read your kind words when she’s able.

    Thank you Rod for your beautifully engineered, ever evolving, remarkable city. It will live forever.

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  • Brian the Space Bee says:

    Rod, thanks for your incredible impact. Much love as you move to the next level!

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  • Kerry says:

    Thank you all for showing your support for my husband, Rod. He loved this community and would have loved
    to read these posts. A Burning Man memorial fund is being set up so that the projects he worked on can continue.

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