Center Cemetery

RKLA was commissioned in 2013 by the Norfolk Center Cemetery Association to design a columbarium within their historic cemetery site in Norfolk, Connecticut. RKLA’s goal was to design a cemetery landscape with great care and restraint so that any new elements would convey dignity and respect for the act of grieving.

RKLA was given a small area in the corner of the cemetery with its existing landscape - a canopy of four mature trees. We designed a 100-foot-long sinuous wall that weaves between the trees and keeps clear of the trees’ roots so they were not damaged by the wall’s below-grade footing.

RKLA brought on dry-stone artist Dan Snow to build the wall with stones from a quarry in Vermont. Echoing his philosophy – “A dry stone wall’s source of life is found in the spaces between the stones” – RKLA placed the 50 columbarium niches within the wall, their openings covered with bluestone faceplates that complement the wall’s large fieldstones. Out of respect for the bereaved, the faceplates are located on the far side of the wall, so the backdrop is of the rest of the beautiful cemetery rather than the adjacent houses. Largely native woodland plantings will add a layer of interest to the understory of the existing trees and complement the wall.

Landscape Architecture Magazine May 2016

Peter Mauss

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