Mount Auburn Cemetery Entry Precinct | Asa Gray Garden & Bigelow Chapel

Project Highlights

  • Frederick Law Olmstead Award, 2019, Preservation Mass
  • Historic Cemetery and Landscape Restoration
  • Entry Sequence
  • Accessibility improvements
  • Fountain Design

Preserving a Historic Landscape

Beginning with the Cemetery’s first comprehensive plan, our landscape architects has helped define and implement Mount Auburn’s goals to preserve its remarkable landscape and expand burial and memorialization opportunities for the public. Most recently, our firm engaged to design a series of projects as part of the entry precinct, the Asa Gray Garden and planting design for the expansion of historic Bigelow Chapel.

The Asa Gray Garden is one of the first open spaces that greets visitors and sets the tone for the myriad vistas, landscape specimens, and monuments that await within. We worked with Mount Auburn to revitalize the Asa Gray Garden and re-establish its role as an important visual and social anchor linking the visitor experience of Story Chapel with Bigelow Chapel and its new cremation facility, all the while offering Mount Auburn’s visitors a place of beauty, respite, tranquility, and contemplation.

Named after renowned 19th-century botanist and Harvard Botanic Garden & Herbarium Director, Asa Gray, the plantings and specimens are ambitious and extensive, echoing the history of Gray’s research into North American and Asian plant species. The design reoriented the garden to align and complement Caroline’s Path leading to Story Chapel and redesigned the open lawn areas to welcome visitors to explore the garden itself while leading the eye towards Bigelow Chapel and the refurbished Laburnum Path.

Prominently located on a hilltop at the entrance to Mount Auburn Cemetery, Bigelow Chapel has been a key focal point of the cemetery since it was built in 1846. Our firm provided landscape design services for the critical enhancement of the Chapel’s grounds and entry experience as a necessary component of the Cemetery’s plans to expand and improve funerary and interment options.

Landscape improvements enhance the new accessible entrance to the Chapel and complement the building’s traditional symmetry. Ornamental and evergreen trees filter views of the Asa Gray Garden through the glass curtain wall of the new addition and provide serenity and privacy. Within the interior, a new courtyard viewing area provides comfort for people attending services at the chapel.

Services Snapshot

Halvorson | Tighe & Bond Studio provided master planning and landscape architectural services to historic Mount Auburn Cemetery in support of this project.


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