Ellison President Mark Graves Contributes Cover Story for 'Doors and Hardware' Magazine on Lakewood Cemetery’s Garden Mausoleum Project

As seen in 'Doors & Hardware' September 2013 Issue | Article by Mark Graves

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ornate Bronze Doors Bring Warmth to Peaceful Garden Mausoleum

Prominent Minneapolis Cemetery Receives Custom Balanced Doors

Renowned for its architecture, art and landscape, Minneapolis’ Lakewood Cemetery is a public, nonprofit and nondenominational cemetery where many prominent Minnesotans are buried.

Established in 1871, Lakewood’s buildings were designed according to the most current architectural style at the time. The Lakewood Memorial Chapel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by a contemporary architect in 1910. The Memorial Community Mausoleum was built in 1967 and showcases the Modernist style popular at that time.

With the Memorial Mausoleum nearing capacity, the Cemetery’s Board of Trustees commissioned a new mausoleum to expand above-ground burial options in 2007. The resulting 23,500 square-foot, two-story structure, designed by Joan M. Soranno, FAIA, of HGA Architects and Engineers, features a contemporary look, but pays special attention the use of the space and its location within the cemetery.

The Garden Mausoleum opened in January 2012 and contains burial space for more than 10,000, a chapel, reception room and administrative offices. Two-thirds of the building is nestled in a hillside to highlight the cemetery’s beautiful and mature landscape.

A mixture of traditional funerary building materials, such as bronze, granite and marble, were used in a contemporary fashion to create a calm and warm environment. The main entrance of the Garden Mausoleum features a pair of custom balanced doors covered in decorative bronze grilles with a wide perimeter accent bronze trim and enclosed in a curved overhang. The doors also feature a hinged glass panel to clean the exterior glass.

The Garden Mausoleum utilizes a total of seven custom balanced doors from manufacturer Ellison Bronze, including three double units and one single unit. Each double unit is equipped with power operation functionality, facilitating optimal access for all users. In addition to the main entry, the balanced doors also lead to the outdoor garden with a water feature and sitting areas.

“The tactile properties were very important when specifying materials for this project. Bronze is warm to the touch and creates the feeling of an intimate space when crossing the threshold from the outside,” says Joan Soranno, FAIA, design principal at HGA Architects and Engineers. “The balanced doors are solid and very substantial, but all visitors can open them with ease. The doors will stand the test of time with the mausoleum.”

Balanced doors meet the particular needs of the new mausoleum because of their unique design and solid construction.Their arrangement is such that the fulcrum is inset at one-third the width of the door, which allows for large, heavy, and durable doors to be opened with ease. The design facilitates fluid opening and closing, even when strong external wind pressures and internal stack pressures exist, as the door works with – rather than against – these forces. This also ensures that doors will remain closed (and not flutter) when confronted with uneven air pressure, ultimately reducing the facility’s energy costs.

The construction and hinging hardware allow the doors to be opened easily, which is especially important for the Garden Mausoleum’s elderly visitors. Traditional swing doors are attached at the frame and the door user must pull the entire weight of the door leaf. A balanced door pivots at two-thirds the width of the door, creating a balance that distributes the weight so the door is simple to open. The inset balancing point allows for an easier open force, even against strong Minneapolis winter winds and building stack, despite the added weight of the sturdy components.

Unlike conventional entry doors, the formed-up balanced doors feature a solid sub-frame, which is made of minimum .09-inch thick material. The external door skins are spot welded at close intervals to internal channel components, yielding an extremely durable, unitized construction.

Furthermore, a balanced door facilitates a more advantageous weight distribution when compared to a conventional door. Its mass is transferred to the floor, as opposed to weighing on easily-worn hinges. While a conventional hinged door may only last five to 10 years, a strong and sustainable balanced door has a lifecycle of 70 years or more. This is especially important for the Garden Mausoleum, which expects an extensive facility lifespan.

Consisting of a leaf, frame, and balanced hardware, the balanced doors were customized for the Garden Mausoleum by the manufacturer. They are available in bronze, stainless steel, aluminum, all glass and wood. They offer multiple finishing, glass, stile and rail options. With virtually limitless combinations available, balanced doors can be tailored to meet individual specifier needs.

“We experimented with different patterns and choose a circular motif pattern for the bronze grill on the doors’ exterior that replicates the white tile mosaic surrounding the entry,” explains Soranno.

The new doors found at the Garden Mausoleum feature a 280 alloy muntz bronze with a #4 satin finish and clear lacquer coating, complimenting the other finishes in the mausoleum.

“This was a very special project that required a lot of attention to detail,” says James Bringle, who served as senior project manager for Empirehouse, Inc. “We worked closely with the architects to select the highest quality materials and finishes for the mausoleum. We are very pleased with the look and function the doors provide.”

The project team consisted of architect HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis, general contractor M.A. Mortenson Company, Minneapolis, and glazing contractor Empirehouse, Inc., St. Paul, Minn.

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