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Walker Contemporaries: Field Trip to Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum

In designing the Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum, “less architecture, more landscape” was the key idea for HGA architects John Cook and Joan Soranno. This hidden gem in the heart of uptown Minneapolis contains some of the finest architecture in the city, yet is visited most commonly for solemn occasions. This, however, was not one of them. The […]

In designing the Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum, “less architecture, more landscape” was the key idea for HGA architects John Cook and Joan Soranno.

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John Cook and Joan Soranno

This hidden gem in the heart of uptown Minneapolis contains some of the finest architecture in the city, yet is visited most commonly for solemn occasions. This, however, was not one of them. The Walker Contemporaries were fortunate enough to get a tour of the award-winning space in late September. The tour began in the Lakewood Chapel, a Byzantine-Romanesque creation to rival those in Europe.

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Soranno and Cook led the group over to the recently completed mausoleum – a stark contrast to the historically-recognizable chapel.

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This building is timeless, and was created to be so. Every aspect about the mausoleum was designed with age in mind, from the durable granite stone to the copper which will develop a beautiful patina.

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And as the building is focused specifically on the concept of people on the inside, the exterior stone reflects that as well in its personally proportionate size pieces.  The group ventured inside to find warmth, light, and muted color that combined a serious nature but also comfort and a sense of welcome.

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Rae Spencer, Jennifer Jorgensen, and Steven Imhoff

To reach the actual burial niches below, one must descend into the ground, but the light is not lost. Large skylights and walls of windows keep the space open, but separate rooms and hallways allow for privacy. Those in attendance were rapt by Soranno’s explanation of intimate detail

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Jeremy Black, DyShaun Muhammad, Matt Thell, and Joan Soranno

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A group of Contemporaries members with Jon Engel in the middle

The entire building seems never-ending: flowing in and out of the landscape effortlessly but planned to every last detail. The group ended the tour outside, staring back at the Lakewood Chapel as a reminder of where the journey began. It is not often that an architect has the chance to create something that will truly stand the test of time, but with this, Soranno and Cook have done Minneapolis proud not only for our lifetimes, but for hundreds of years to come.

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