Lakewood Garden Mausoleum

Lakewood garden mausoleum was designed by Joan M. Soranno, FAIA, of HGA Architects and Engineers of Minneapolis, with General Contractor Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis. Empirehouse, a Glazing Specialty Contractor, joined the HGA design team as a design-assist partner and was selected as the glazing contractor for this one-of-a-kind project. Our “Design Assist” services helped bring the vision HGA had for this unique design to reality, while keeping the project within budget.


In this granite clad 24,000 square-foot, two-level mausoleum structure, light filters through exquisite patinaed bronze metal curtainwall, slim slotted windows and exterior ground level walking surface skylights to offer a peaceful and serene experience to those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Although this was not a large project, the attention to detail, the superior quality of the materials selected, and the extreme attention to true old-world craftsmanship made this project not only unique, but one of the finest constructed in the state of Minnesota.

The owner’s requirements included maintaining a similarity with materials already used on surrounding cemetery buildings. Since no aluminum was allowed for entries or glazed areas, all doors, curtainwall and window framing were constructed in solid bronze metal. Contracted to offer both design assistance and the actual work, Empirehouse brought together a team of premium manufacturers that were able to provide custom designed bronze and glass products that were contemporary, transparent, and functional to meet the owner’s and designer’s needs.

Built into the hillside to preserve the cemetery’s pastoral quality, this elegantly simple design quietly embraces the landscape while offering a contemplative interior experience. The 24,000-square-foot, two-level mausoleum includes six crypt rooms, six columbaria rooms, three family crypt rooms, committal room, and support spaces. Clad in rough-textured gray granite and white mosaic-marble, the mausoleum unfolds horizontally on its site within three smaller pods that recall the many family mausoleums throughout the historic cemetery. Inside, light filters through skylights and lantern-windows to strengthen the relationship between the spiritual and the earth-bound.

The project went on to win numerous awards including a much coveted 2014 AIA National Honor Award.

Lakewood-Interior-03At the 50% design-development stage, Empirehouse joined the design team of HGA as a “Design Assist” partner until the Contract documents were released for construction. We offered a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) at this time. Taking the architects vision, Empirehouse brought together a team of premium manufacturers and laced them together with our experience. Many custom designed products were used because of their contemporary, transparent, and functional features. However, we were still able to keep the old world charm by using materials of bronze, glass, granite, and marble. Following an extensive interview process, we were selected as the “Most Responsible Contractor.”

Empirehouse is proud to have been an integral part of the building process of the Lakewood Garden Mausoleum. The exquisite design using bronze and glass for the skylights, windows, hand railings, and entrance doors, highlights quality and old world craftsmanship which is fitting for such a prestigious location. We would like to thank HGA Architects and Mortenson Construction for the opportunity to share the experience of providing and installing products that will be used and appreciated for decades and centuries to come.

“As an architect, it is not always easy to find trusted construction trade partners to work directly with us in the early stages of designing and detailing a project. The passion and expertise to support and advance our early ideas are found at Empirehouse. It is always an extreme pleasure to work closely with their team members to develop, price and test during the research and development stages. These projects typically come with extreme challenges for high performance and great aesthetics (we always treat these with equal importance) and they have never failed to deliver. Our most representative example is our partnership with them on the Lakewood Garden Mausoleum project where Empirehouse excelled at providing a level of service and a quality of product for window systems, skylight systems and bronze components that exceeded our most restrictive expectations. The project went on to win numerous awards including a much coveted 2014 AIA National Honor Award.”

John Cook, FAIA
Vice President
HGA Architects and Engineers

Features include:

Lakewood-Exterior-09Six Flat Skylights: The skylights protrude from the ground on the green roof, surrounded by bronze architectural panels and spheres. These skylights are flat, single pieces of glass which are designed to let in light and act as a walk-able roof surface. Three single pieces of glass 6 feet by 12 feet, and three 7-foot diameter circles were provided.

Custom Fabricated Bronze Clad Windows: The architect’s vision was to create a flat exterior glass surface with hidden caulk joints and a delicate touch of bronze at the perimeter. The interior is clad with bronze to give the interior warmth and charm. Glass is maximized to create transparency and offers viewers the feeling of being outdoors. These windows are set with 3M Glazing Tape.

Lakewood-Exterior-05Ten Oversized Bronze Balanced Doors with Decorative Grills and Custom Art Glass: The main entrance features an ornate bronze grill pattern applied to the exterior with a wide perimeter accent trim. The doors are designed with a hinged glass panel to easily clean the exterior glass. The garden doors are glazed with custom carved and painted art glass, and the main garden door is surrounded by a protruding solid bronze shroud.

Glass Guardrails: Six hundred feet of guardrail surrounds the exterior and interior of the building. The exterior guardrail at the terrace and green roof overlooks the new garden and is glazed with 1/2″ tempered glass and clad with bronze at the base and the top of the glass. The interior guardrail overlooks the grand stair from the terrace level down to the garden level. Over 250 feet of custom bronze rail have been installed at the interior grand stair and two exterior stairs.

Family Crypt Gates: Located at the main entrance doors are three sets of bronze gates fabricated from solid bronze with a similar ornate pattern.

Special Components: Specialty materials include bronze trim around the reflecting pool, Knot Garden, Terrace Garden, and a bronze bench around an elevated lawn. Over 200 feet of light coves are located throughout the interior glazed with 9/16″ laminated frosted glass. All bronze components were treated with a chemical “patina” to match the century old weathered bronze that you see throughout the grounds and buildings.

Video: Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum
Video Lakewood Garden Mausoleum

Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum was one of Finance & Commerce Top Projects of 2011.

Lakewood Garden Mausoleum
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contractor: Mortenson Construction
Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
Glazing Specialty Contractor: Empirehouse, Inc.
Completed: 2011

Photo Gallery: (Click to enlarge)