John Lum Architecture has designed a new chapel building for Olivet Funeral & Cremation Services. While funeral homes tend to be bleak and windowless, Olivet wanted their new building to reflect its mission of helping families honor the dead in meaningful ways.
“Sacred spaces are a vital part of our communities intended to serve us during times of need,” said Bret Walters, a principal at John Lum Architecture. “To create a peaceful, functional sanctuary that is an extension of Olivet’s principles, we took a human-centered approach rooted inclusivity, togetherness, and connectivity.”
The mid-century modern design features a low, horizontal profile stretched across a gently-sloped lawn. Celebrating the cycle of life, the exterior is a composition of concrete pillars and wood-slated screens that play with shadow and light. A breezeway shelters the glass entry, guiding guests along a grass-swept facade, and culminating at a shou sugi ban wall; an emblem of preservation. Throughout, resting benches allow visitors to experience the hushed silence. Above, copper-trimmed eaves, which have started to patina, are a reminder of spiritual transformations.
Inside, is the funeral home’s centerpiece, a 2,100 square foot multi-purpose chapel that can accommodate 300 guests. Bathed in natural light, a wall of windows overlooking the zen-like garden, acts as a threshold to nature and place of contemplation. The interiors are awash in tranquil hues. Walls have a cloud-like ombre effect while clay-colored carpet absorbs the whispering echoes. A soft glow emerges from the deeply grooved, geometric ceiling cut-out, and drop-down screens allow for memories to be shared.
To set the tone, the lobby features a welcoming skylight, stone gray terrazzo flooring, and a mid-century color palette. The facility also has two family-friendly arrangement suites, two smaller visitation areas, restrooms, a hospitality room with coffee bar, as well as staff offices.
The simple design captures the compassionate spirit of the community, affording families to create a beautiful tribute after losing a loved one. Cypress Lawn offers traditional funerals and burials, cremations, memorial and chapel services, lawn crypts, a columbarium, and mausoleums.
Photography: Paul Dyer