Cemetery’s Garden Mausoleum Connects Spiritual and Physical Spaces

August 27, 2013 by


Created for the departed but experienced by the living, cemeteries are bucolic spaces for remembrance and quiet contemplation. 

For the historic Lakewood Cemetery, which dates back to 1871, HGA Architects and Engineers designed a garden mausoleum that, in their words, “quietly embraces the landscape while offering a contemplative interior experience.”



Built into the hillside to preserve the cemetery’s pastoral quality, the mausoleum’s design protects the historic landscape while light-filled and outwardly-focused spaces.


Minnesota’s Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum is clad in a rough-textured gray granite and white mosaic-marble. The horizontal 24,000-square-foot, two-level structure that includes six crypt rooms, six columbaria rooms, three family crypt rooms, committal room, and support spaces. The design artfully integrates the exterior garden with its light-filled interior,  beginning with a large stair that draws visitors from the mausoleums’s entry to its lower garden level.


Light filters in through a variety of framed skylights and windows, each offering a view to the horizon, up to the tree canopy, or clear blue sky as a representation of the eternal relationship between spiritual and physical worlds.



“The impeccably detailed glass-and-granite structure fuses with the landscape in a respectful, yet unconventional, take on the most permanent of all building types.”
Architect magazine



Three smaller pods share the site, a design element intended to associate it with the many family mausoleums throughout the historic Minnesota cemetery.


The Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum received the Grand Award from the Northland Chapter of the International Interior Design Association’s 2013 Fab Awards as well as from the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Religious Art and Architecture Design Awards, whose jury commented that, “the elegant project respects and honors the deceased by creating a sacred landscape at the same time. The design carefully considers the way to bring light into the spaces. It is a very quiet environment, fitting of the reflective moment. Light and space are so beautifully balanced and restrained.”

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