Willamette National Cemetery – Columbarium Expansion
Portland, Oregon • Completed 2019
*Work completed at Mayer/Reed.
Willamette National Cemetery is set atop Mt. Scott just to the southeast of Portland, Oregon. The picturesque cemetery occupies more than 250 acres and offers beautiful views of the surrounding valley and mountains to visitors. The columbarium expansion project required 5,000 additional columbarium niches and 3,000 in-ground cremains spaces to be developed in an underutilized area adjacent to the ecologically sensitive and protected headwaters of Johnson Creek.
Brian Stuhr worked closely with founding principal Carol Mayer-Reed, FASLA and in close collaboration with Abide International, KPFF, and Nishkian Dean, to lead the consultant team for this design/build project.
The courtyard is embedded into the hillside, creating an intimate and solemn memorial space.
While the site that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs had selected for this new columbarium court was topographically challenging, those characteristics were the guidepost for our proposed design. The Columbarium Court was shaped to fit within the curving topography of the site and while avoiding the existing committal shelter. The courtyard was embedded into the hillside to improve accessibility and viewsheds and to create an intimate and solemn memorial space. As visitors enter the space, the niches are revealed slowly as one walks along the arcing walls. The path slowly drops in grade, creating the feeling that the walls are becoming taller and more imposing. The compression continues until, finally, opening to a serene view of the adjacent woodlands.