lakewood cemetary

Behind the Building: Garden Mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery

HGA Architects’ deep commitment to materiality is expressed in every granular detail of the Garden Mausoleum design.

Jennifer Geleff Jennifer Geleff

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When HGA Architects and Engineers completed the Garden Mausoleum in 2011, they did more than simply erect a building — they expanded upon the rich history of the Lakewood Cemetery, a much beloved place, in a respectful, impeccable manner. Built into a rolling hillside adjacent to the 250-acre site’s already existing Community Memorial Mausoleum and Chapel, the asymmetrical 24,000 square-foot granite and glass structure expresses a deep commitment to materiality and every aspect of design, down to the granular details.

Garden Mausoleum

Bottom image via LANDEZINE

With this design, the architects wanted to create a structure of permanence — an eternal resting place that could withstand the test of time. According to the architects, the program builds meaning from the most indelible aspects of the human experience, including “the immediacy of light and dark, the immutability of squares and circles and the echo of stone surfaces.” To learn more about the elements that tie this building together and how the architects brought these themes to life, continue reading below: 

Granite Tile

Manufactured by Cold Spring Granite, Inc.; Installed by Mortenson Contruction

The mausoleum is clad with courses of dark-hued, split-face granite block, comprised of an 80-percent Academy Black granite, quarried in Minnesota, and 20-percent Charcoal Black granite, quarried in California. With touch being such an important sensory aspect of commemorative architecture, HGA looked for materials that were very tactile. 25,799 pieces of stone were field blended and set by hand over a period of five months by Mortenson Construction. The beauty and magnitude of this cladding demonstrates just one instance of the impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail that makes up this magnificent structure.


Manufactured by Viracon

When it came time to establish the windows of the mausoleum, the architect’s vision was to create a flat exterior glass surface with hidden caulk joints and a small amount of bronze at the perimeter, which would echo the nearby doors by Ellison Bronze. This design detail was accomplished by setting the glass with glazing tape by 3M, which contributes to the project’s seamless connection between interior spaces and the phenomenal exterior landscape.

Garden Mausoleum

Image via and by Morgan Sheff Photography

Mosaic Tile

Manufactured by RBC Tile & Stone; Installed by CD Tile & Stone

Throughout the project, ornamental bronze doors and windows are recessed into cascading mosaic walls, creating a sense of dynamic movement and textural contrast within an otherwise angular design. To render this structural fluidity, the architects partnered with Minneapolis-based manufacturer RBC Tile & Stone.

Garden Mausoleum

Image via Designboom

Bronze Doors

Manufactured by Ellison Bronze

HGA Architects and Engineers harnessed custom bronze entry-doors by Ellison Bronze to transition visitors in from the beautiful outdoor gardens featuring winding paths, benches and a reflecting pool, to the orthogonal pavilion. Not only does the ornate circular patterning of the doors echo that of the building’s exterior mosaic tiles, but the doors are also used to create a distinct sense of enclosure and serenity upon entry.

Garden Mausoleum

Image via ArchDaily

Pendant Lighting

Manufactured by Bocci

Upon entering the pavilion, visitors are immediately met by eye-catching multi-light pendants by Bocci that dangle in the center of lobby. With more than a dozen xenon lights per chandelier, this modern design detail lights up a space that is otherwise marked by clean, methodical lines and traditional materials such as wood, granite and marble.

Image via ArchDaily

Bronze Railings

Manufactured by Livers Bronze Co

Minimally detailed bronze railings, which mirror the finishes on both the intricate grilles and seamless glazing, guide visitors down into the building’s spaces that are either partially or completely submerged underground. To create the understated railings, HGA Architects and Engineers partnered with Livers Bronze Co. — a specialty manufacturer of custom railings.

Garden Mausoleum

Image via ArchDaily


Manufactured by Empirehouse, Inc.

Since a large portion of the building’s program — including a committed chapel, grieving room and crypt rooms — lies underground and is accessed by a flight of descending marble stairs, the architect sought out creative approaches to illuminating these subterranean spaces in order to make them habitable. The design incorporates six skylight in total, which filter light into various rooms clad in marble, wood and stone; the architect used three 6-foot by 12-foot rectangular tempered glass units in addition to three circular units that measure 7-feet in diameter. In the instance depicted above, a rectangular skylight brings a single shaft of light into the crypt.

Garden Mausoleum

Image via ArchDaily

Interior Marble Cladding

Manufactured by Grazzini Brothers & Co. 

With the mausoleum, HGA harnessed conventional funerary materials such as granite, marble and bronze, and reinterpreted them within a twenty-first century architectural expression. Offering space for 4,600 niches for urns and 750 casket crypts, the architects chose stunning Alabama White marble cladding by Grazzini Brothers & Co. to create a pristine environment for commemorating life.

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