Light and Material at Play

Minneapolis-based architecture firm HGA recently finished work on the new Garden Mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. It has garnered a number of awards, several coming from the American Institute of Architects. Much of its recognition comes from the project’s use of light and its relationship to the interior materials and the process of grieving and reflecting on life. The National AIA Religious Art and Architecture Design Awards jury stated that:

“This 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.”

Granite wall and marble flooring detail work. Image also exhibits light and material in concert with each other through a play on texture. © Justin Z Sims Photography

I, along with two other architecture students, recently took a lovely Saturday afternoon to bike over and check this place out, per a recommendation from a friend. I will wholeheartedly agree with how serene the space felt. It was such an intense experience that I had to process it in stages, taking in one view entirely before moving on to the next. I brought along my trusty Canon Rebel DSLR camera and had an amazingly fun time photographing the spaces inside the chapel. In fact, it has become one of my all-time favorite places to photograph.

Detail shot of one of the crypt room benches. © Justin Z Sims Photography

My incredibly positive experience came namely from how light played into the overall design. By using a combination of direct and indirect lighting, HGA was able to tailor each space to different moods. Crypt rooms were given a softness from diffused light filtering in through skylights, whereas hallways had swaths of sunlight chasing across them. All in all, I highly recommend visiting this space. Bring a camera, a sketchbook, and a lot of time to spare. You’ll want to use all three.

Rear Crypt Room in Lower Mausoleum. © Justin Z Sims Photography

*All images in this post were from my visit there*


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