'Architect' Magazine Cover Story Features Ellison Doors at Lakewood Mausoleum

Monday, October 15, 2012
'Architect' Magazine Cover Story Features Ellison Doors at Lakewood Mausoleum

As seen in 'Architect' Magazine October Issue
Article by Katie Gerfen

Built into a hillside in one of Minneapolis's most historic cemeteries, HGA'S imepccably detailed glass-and-granite strutcture fuses with the landscape in a respectful, yet unconventional, take on the most permanent of all building types. 

WHEN LAKEWOOD CEMETERY'S existing Memorial Mausoleum began to run out of space, there was no option to expand. remodel, or tear down and start anew. Each wall represented so much more than an assemblage of load-bearing beams; every nook and cranny represented sorneone's final resting place. Lakewood's approach to a new, second, mausoleum building was different than most other U.S. cemeteries. Instead of pursuing a cost-effective designjbuild structure, the 141-year-old Minneapolis institution held a design competition, seeking a structure that would meet basic needs and fulfill the longstanding desire of the board of trustees for beautiful buildings-as far back as 1908, they demolished a chapel because they felt it "did not fit with the beauty of the cemetery," says lakewood president Ronald A. Gjerde Jr.

So the stakes were high for Joan Soranno, FAIA, and her team at HGA to take on a historic setting and an unfamiliar typology. "Contemporary architecture today is very edgy and it wants to provoke ... [but] when you come to a cemetery and you're sad, and heartbroken, and grieving, you don't want to be provoked," Soranno says. The design process "was always under the lens of: Is it timeless? Is it serene?"

The Lakewood board was won over by Soranno's passion-she admits to reading nearly 20 books on the subject before the interview - so much so that they readily agreed to an unconventional resiting. Initially, the board assumed that the new structure would be entirely above-grade-one reason that mausoleums have become popular, Gjerde says, is because "some people just don't like the idea of being bwied in the ground:' But HGA posed a radical alternative: Embed the bulk of the building into an existing hillside, "because the true power of this place is its landscape." Soranno says.   ....Read the full story at architectmagazine.com

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