Brooklyn’s 1838 Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, was the precursor of New York’s Central Park and is one of America’s most picturesque landscapes. PBDW collaborated with Green-Wood to create several new buildings designed to carry out the intentions of the historic landscape in an architectural vocabulary worthy of the Cemetery’s exceedingly high precedent for design.
The monumental glass windows of the Hillside Mausoleum, which is cut into a sharply sloping site, bring the landscape through the greenhouse enclosure and make the space an extension of the outdoors. The transparency of the envelope, the glass pyramids, and blocks of crypts at the top entry of the mausoleum further integrate it with its surroundings.
The Columbarium is conceived as a garden pavilion organized within a semi-circular wood and glass structure, enclosing a central meditation space set in a 150-foot reflecting pool. Following the form of an existing hemicycle of urn burials and integrated with the circulation between Green-Wood’s great Gate and it renovated Chapel, the Columbarium expands the inventory of commemorative structures in Green-Wood’s extraordinary landscape making possible a new experience of space, light, water and flowers by its pool and under its vine-covered pergolas.
The program for the addition to an existing 1950s crematorium located near the Cemetery’s main entry and adjacent to Richard Upjohn’s 1860 triple-portal gate included a second chapel, further expansion of the Cemetery’s mausoleum and columbarium capacity, replacement of all cremation equipment, and new building systems. The new façade extends over the original entry to give the building a unified presence. Its low massing, strong horizontals, and shifting planes engage the surrounding Arcadian landscape, while the new design respects the original building’s modernist vocabulary of limestone and white marble trim. The materials and details of the new façade relate the expanded structure to adjacent contemporary structures, while the brown granite rainscreen connects it to the Belleville brownstone of Upjohn’s exuberant entrance.