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Building a better Lakewood | Learn about our new Welcome Center

Welcome Center

We’re building a better Lakewood!

Campus improvements and a new energy-efficient Welcome Center will help make Lakewood more inviting, accessible and sustainable.

We are excited to share that we will be breaking ground this summer on a new building and landscaping project at Lakewood that aligns with our progressive, nonprofit vision — to reimagine the role of a cemetery in modern life and make memorialization more relevant, inviting and accessible to current and future generations.

The project includes a 25,000-square-foot, environmentally conscious Welcome Center and surrounding gardens and walking paths that will offer an enhanced experience for the thousands of people that Lakewood welcomes and serves each year. Goals of the project include:

  • A more welcoming front entry with contemplative gardens and walking paths that are open to the public
  • A new building for serving families and our community that is warm, accessible and inviting for all generations, faiths and cultures
  • Dedicated space for community education and engagement
  • Expanded office space for a growing team of mission-driven advisors and service professionals
  • Responsible stewardship of Lakewood’s energy, water and plant resources

The project is scheduled to begin in June with estimated completion in early 2024. Design, construction and other updates will be posted to this page throughout the course of the project.

Learn more about this exciting development in our FAQs below!

“Lakewood is celebrating a huge milestone — 150 years of serving our community. And as we look ahead, we believe this is the perfect time to reimagine what a cemetery can offer and to explore new possibilities for becoming more accessible, sustainable and inviting to our community. We’re excited about how the new Welcome Center will help us realize this vision.”

Chris Makowske
President

We server 10,000 visitors each year
Welcome Center will be a net zero energy use building
We server 2,000 families each year

Location

The new Welcome Center and surrounding gardens will be located east of the existing Administration Building and greenhouses.

Welcome Center plan ariel view

General FAQs

Why are you building a new Welcome Center?

For 150 years, Lakewood has been a community resource and local treasure that is open to all – yet many people aren’t aware they are welcome here. To continue to actualize our vision of reimagining the role of a cemetery in modern life, we are deeply focused on issues like accessibility, sustainability and the visitor and family experience. Our historic Administration Building is beautiful, but we have outgrown the space and in many ways it’s not as functional or accessible as we’d like it to be for serving today’s families and visitors. To address this, we’re building a new Welcome Center that we believe will help us better serve families, engage with visitors and our community, and house our growing team.

Where will the new building be located?

The new Welcome Center and surrounding gardens will be located east of the existing Administration Building and greenhouses.

How long will the construction last?

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer with completion planned for early 2024.

Will the new building be energy efficient?

Yes! The Welcome Center has been designed to have “net zero” energy use, meaning it will produce as much energy as it uses. This is accomplished through a geothermal mechanical system, a high-performance building envelope, and the use of renewable energy created by a rooftop solar array.

What will happen to the existing Administration Building?

Completed in 1929, our existing Administration Building is an historic treasure and beautiful example of neoclassical architecture. This building will be repurposed. We are exploring several options.

Why are you investing in office space while many organizations are going remote?

At Lakewood, meeting with families in person – and providing a comforting presence and listening ear – is critical to fulfilling our mission. While we certainly use online tools to support families remotely when needed, we can be of greatest service to families when we can see and be with them on-site. Offering more support requires expanding our team, which requires more space.

Especially for families and visitors

Will the mausoleums and office be open?

Yes, the current Administration Building, historic chapel and mausoleums will all be open regular hours during construction, with a few exceptions possible over the course of the project. Visitor parking will be oriented to the west side of the cemetery to avoid construction areas. We will post any changes or exceptions to this page.

Will visiting hours change?

Visiting hours will remain the same during construction, with a few exceptions possible over the course of the project. We will post any updates to this page.

Will this affect my loved one’s graveside or memorial service?

We will work with our project partners to do everything we can to ensure funeral and memorial services are not disturbed by project activity. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Will this project affect my visiting experience?

We will do everything we can to minimize disruption. Typically, construction will occur Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., though there may be times when it will be extended over the course of the project. We will post any updates to this page. Please share any questions you may have by contacting us.

Can I still walk at Lakewood?

Yes! We kindly ask that you orient your walking route to the west side of the cemetery during construction. If you drive to Lakewood for walks, please park farther away (west) from the cemetery entrance to allow families having funeral services and receptions in our chapel and/or Garden Mausoleum to use the space closest to those buildings. And as always, please be respectful of other visitors and give space to grieving families and services.

Will any gravesites be affected?

No – absolutely not. The area where the new building will be located was previously undeveloped and contains no graves.

I usually take a left when I enter – will that road remain open?

The road to the east will be closed for certain periods during the project. For help mapping an alternate route, please call us at 612-822-2171, email us or stop in to see us in our current Administration Building. The best route will depend on where the grave is located.

Will construction vehicles park in nearby neighborhoods?

We are working with our construction partner to identify areas inside of the cemetery for construction vehicles to park.

If you welcome more people to Lakewood, will it stay peaceful and serene?

During the past few years, we have been honored to see more people visiting and walking here – appreciating a peaceful respite in challenging times. By providing more accessible spaces, paths and signage, we expect this project will improve flow and movement throughout the cemetery. And of course, our standards of reverence and respect will always remain.

Especially for nature lovers

Will you be adding more trees and plants?

Yes! We are planning several new garden areas with new trees and plantings surrounding the new Welcome Center and front entry. We also have a long-term plan to replace trees in the cemetery that were lost to the emerald ash borer, starting with 150 new trees this year.

What other sustainable practices are you employing?

In addition to designing a building that generates solar energy and uses less resources for heating and cooling, several sustainability practices will be employed during the project’s design and construction. These include:

  • using sustainably sourced building materials
  • minimizing and recycling construction waste
  • using landscaping materials that require less watering

How is Lakewood becoming more sustainable overall?

As responsible stewards of Lakewood’s resources, we are working to do our part while at the same time maintaining the beautiful gardens and vistas that many families expect and value when they visit. Our current focus is on increasing trees and plant life, managing stormwater effectively, and using more organic and environmentally friendly substances and equipment, such as electric vehicles.

The Project Team

The project is being developed through a unique partnership with three local architecture firms: Miller Dunwiddie, Snow Kreilich Architects and TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture. JE Dunn will serve as construction manager. Because the project aims to balance tradition with innovation, this collaborative design team brings experience in historic and modern architecture, as well as landscape design and conservation.

Miller Dunwiddie Architecture Logo

Miller Dunwiddie

Miller Dunwiddie is a full-service architecture and design firm based in Minneapolis. Founded in 1963, the work of the firm began with a focus on aviation, workplace and governmental projects. Since then, the firm’s expertise has grown to include preservation, interior design, transportation and building envelope systems. Understanding history, context and technology is paramount to the body of their work, whether it’s the rehabilitation and renovation of an existing structure or creating a new building from the ground up.

Snow Kreilich Architects logo

Snow Kreilich Architects

Snow Kreilich Architects is a is a nationally recognized and award-winning architectural studio-based practice in Minneapolis. With each project led by design principals Julie Snow and Matt Kreilich, the studio focuses on producing architecture that performs against multiple measures of design success. This focus has resulted in consistent design recognition for projects that rely on a fresh and intensive design investigation of every project. They have developed shared working methodologies that result in consistently intelligent buildings that are well conceived and carefully detailed.

Ten x Ten Architects logo

TEN x TEN Landscape Architecture

TEN x TEN is a landscape architecture and urban design practice grounded by a shared curiosity and passion for experimentation and agency. They collaborate with visionary clients and teams to co-create immersive future-focused landscapes that will adapt to social, economic and environmental transformation. TEN x TEN designs for resilience and flexibility, monitoring what makes places thrive, adapt and be loved long after they are built. Their approach elevates the everyday human experience through a deep respect for the authenticity of people, culture and ecology.

JeDunn Construction logo

JE Dunn Construction

Established in 1924, JE Dunn Construction is a national commercial contractor with 24 offices, including its Minnesota office, which has been in operation for over 75 years. As an employee- and family-owned business, they are known for creatively driving value during design and construction; as a result, over 80% of their business is derived from existing or referral relationships. Their local projects demonstrate a breadth and depth of talent unmatched in the region, with a portfolio composed of buildings that cut across type and function. These are projects with unique features, complex code and regulatory issues, and often complicated challenges; each brought to life through collaboration and what their clients tell them is a great experience.

NTH

NTH is a real estate and project management firm helping clients make smart real estate and construction decisions. Founded over 25 years ago, NTH was one of the first companies in Minnesota to exclusively represent the users of real estate. They provide customized solutions that meet clients’ real estate needs and business goals. Their senior-level team is hands on: all clients have access to decades of experience and insights. NTH has extensive knowledge of the real estate market and offers unmatched, valuable insight into both existing properties and new developments. NTH speaks construction, which keeps their clients informed of the true costs and potential impact of project decisions. NTH is a WBENC – Certified Women’s Business Enterprise.

Questions/Contact

For questions about this project, contact us at info@lakewoodcemetery.org.

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