Monolith gardens
Graduate Project
Spring 2020
Designed  in Revit 2020
renderings done in enscape
post-production done in photoshop
Presented digitally via pdf due to covid restrictions

Approaching from the south, guests are drawn into the space through a series of concrete monoliths lining the path to an open-air welcome pavil­ion. The monoliths vary in height and envelop guests in comfort and priva­cy as they begin their journey. Beyond the monoliths are mature cypress trees and stately oaks. setting an atmosphere which is distinctly New Orleans. The perfect backdrop for second-line funerals and jazz music. Bright Louisiana sun pierces the tree canopy letting in beams of light while protecting against heat. Shadows are formed by the monoliths and each time of day is a different experience in the monolith park. Once at the open-air pavilion, guests can look back at their journey through the mono­lith park and see that on the back side of each monolith are cremation vaults with simple names inscribed on the outside. The pavilion offers full panoramic views of the park with views of the street blocked by oak trees which allow guests to be with their loved ones in peace and be unbothered by the busy city. Beyond the pavilion, further north on the site. guests will find the funeral service facilities. With service rooms featuring expansive windows and naturally ventilated spaces, guests feel like their loved ones are becoming part of everything around them. Knowing their loved ones will always be with them wherever they go.

New Orleanians live with water as a certainty – it is not a question of if the area will flood but when the area will flood. I wanted to take this unique experience and carry it through the complex’s design. The central buildings, where most of the funerary procession occurs, are elevated above a natural flood plane (which has been emphasized through topographic changes). The flood plane collects water and gives the appearance of the central buildings floating above the water’s surface. The roofs on the flanking buildings are designed to overhang the central buildings and dip at the center of each of the central building’s roofs, creating an inhabitable water sculpture through the spaces’ adjacencies, ultimately heightening the experience of New Orleans’ relationship with water.

Drawing inspiration from second-line funerals, the experience of the columbarium garden differs depending on the direction guests are walking. When walking toward the central complex, the columbarium garden appears as solid monoliths rising from the site, when headed away from the central complex, the names of loved ones and access to urn chambers are seen. The monoliths in the columbarium garden and the entry buildings on the southern end of the site, frame the small chapel and create a promenade which lends to the sequence of spaces throughout the funerary process.

When coming to the complex to make funerary arrangements, the interior of the services building has panoramic views of the courtyard and flood plane. This gives guests a visual understanding of the funerary process and the atmosphere they can expect during their service.

The roof from the outside flanking buildings act as protection from the sun as well as focusing the water onto the roofs of the buildings in the central flood plane area. As shown here, the roof line dips down over each central building – during times of heavy rain, water would be focused into a tiered effect being moved from the larger roof, onto the interior roofs, and then focused into the flood plane. The space and materiality of the interior corridors are ideal for second line bands and celebrations.

Because of the certainty of water and the proximity to the Orleans Canal, I wanted the spaces to be able to take on water and return to operation shortly after the water rescinds. Chapel and Committal Room features are built in and uniform with the concrete construction of the overall space.

The small chapels and the committal rooms feature perforated walls, protected by an overhanging roof. The walls allow for air circulation throughout the spaces. In the small chapels, the perforated walls face south making them ideal for late fall to early spring services.

The committal rooms are connected to the small chapels by an elevated walkway. From the small chapels, moments such as these allow for a visual connection and understanding of the funerary procession as well as moments of reflection for guests.

From the doorway of the small chapel, looking across the flood plane and through the committal room adjacencies, the third destination for the body, the disposition space, can be seen. The central spaces are set up to be physically and visually connected in sequence with the funerary process.

New Orleanians widely observe All Saints Day and I wanted the space to be able to cultivate that tradition in a beautiful way and demonstrate the opportunity the flood plain presents for that. On All Saints Day, surviving family members whitewash tombs and light candles. Because the complex has no tombs, it was important to enhance the opportunity for candles. “Illuminating them with candles, the idea being that the candles light the way for priests who walk through the cemeteries blessing the tombs.”

While committal rooms are traditionally under the same roof as the rest of the disposition, it was important to me to create a detached, intimate space, to say goodbye to loved ones before the body reaches the disposition space.

Presentation PDF