Mount Auburn Cemetery – Birch Gardens

Project Highlights

  • Recipient of Boston Society of Landscape Architects 2017 Design Merit Award
  • Replaces underutilized space with new gathering and new interment opportunities
  • Offers secluded space for quiet contemplation, solace, and healing
  • Preserves existing trees, providing dappled shade from the mature canopy

Garden Cemetery Design Encourages Quiet, Respectful Reflection

Running along the eastern edge of Mount Auburn Cemetery is the new Birch Gardens. The space previously contained a chain link fence and overgrown vegetation offering little in terms of desirable gathering space or interment opportunities. Halvorson | Tighe & Bond Studio (Halvorson) transformed this perimeter and developed an extensive program, including burial space for 500 and a central garden space. Birch Gardens features a seven-foot-tall memorial wall, which provides a significant density of interment, forcing a paradigm shift away from the traditional single family plot.

Staggering walls of various lengths assuage monotony along the edge and offer prescribed views to the abutting landscape. Existing specimen trees were preserved and dappled shade from the mature canopies instills a sense of timelessness within the cemetery’s fabric. Rising mere inches above the lawn, a pool swells from the earth, mirroring the sky and surrounding landscape. The shaded spaces overlooking the zero-edge reflecting pool offer seclusion conducive to quiet contemplation, solace, and healing.

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