Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum

HGA Architects and Engineers

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Garden Mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery required careful consideration of the intimacy of personal grieving and the shared rituals of commemoration. The 24,500-square-foot building is anchored by a two-level structure housing a committal chapel and a reception space. The building then unfolds into a series of garden-level chambers for interments. The chapel and reception space are the more active, communal spaces; the garden-level chambers are quiet and contemplative. Still, with light-filled rooms connected to a landscaped garden, this project challenges the paradigm of mausoleums as dark, introverted places. Each burial chamber is different, and each frames a unique view through large windows or skylights.

With more than three quarters of the Mausoleum nestled into an existing hillside, the building blends seamlessly into its surroundings. A green roof extends the sweep of lawn over the burial chambers; a single bronze-trimmed earthen mound containing a skylight marks each chamber above the ground.

In terms of function, the project required efficient space-planning to address the problem of shrinking acreage for in-ground casket burials. With only 25 acres of undeveloped land remaining in the cemetery (out of 250), the Mausoleum used a strategy of higher-density memorialization. While 7 acres are required to accommodate 10,000 in-ground casket burials, in only half an acre the Mausoleum houses 4,800 niches for cremated remains and 750 full-body crypts.

In addition to preserving the cemetery’s pastoral landscape, the Mausoleum had to acknowledge existing architecture, notably a 1910 chapel with neo-Byzantine mosaic interiors by New York architect Charles Lamb. The mosaics served as springboard for the marble and glass tile mosaics that signal important components of the new Mausoleum. Also granite, marble, and bronze were used to ensure longevity and enduring cultural significance.

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