HILLSIDE WITNESS CREMATORY
Rose Hills, CA
BUILDING SIZE: A new 930 sq.ft. dual retort witness crematory, plus 1,500 sq.ft. of garden and accessibility improvements. The existing chapel has 500 sq.ft. of modifications to provide casket & handicap access to the new crematory.
CLIENT PROGRAM: Design a verification crematorium whereby the user group can follow & observe the open casket’s journey from the chapel narthex to the crematory and visibly observe the body enter the retort burner unit and the ashes removed.
EXISTING CONTEXT: The existing Hillside Chapel is an iconic structure designed in 1955 by Albert C. Martin & Associates. The dramatic flying wing roof system dominates the glass walled chapel and gardens underneath. The structure is an historical landmark.
DESIGN SOLUTION: The first scheme utilized the Chapel’s flying wing concept with different building materials and colors to create a difference between old and new structures. This scheme was quickly abandoned in favor of a concept that did not mimic, but instead respectfully complements the existing chapel structure.
The selected scheme uses heavy dashed stucco “parapet walls” to become green walls with plantings & vines and a pitched black roof system predominately hidden by the angled parapet walls to purposely distinguish it from the existing chapel. The structure’s angled walls and roof pitches reference the existing chapel angles. New stone garden walls were designed to encapsulate the walkway and gardens leading into the crematory gallery area from the general lawn and public view.
The small viewing galleries are sized for groups of up to 10-12 and 4-6 in the smaller gallery. The smaller gallery has an angled mirror for reflections and a garden for calmness. The larger gallery has an angled window to the gods and a garden. Interior finishes are Shou Shugi Ban wood siding & ceiling, stone floors, concrete wainscots, angular (directed to heaven) window systems. The space is meant for family contemplation during the 40 minute burn process and verification.
When the exterior wall planting matures, the structure will harmoniously blend into the surrounding landscape and further separate & distinguish the crematory from the existing chapel.
American Institute of Architects
Pasadena & Foothill Chapter
Design Award 2020