Where do we go from here? Emerging Trends and their Effect on Cemeteries

Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum by architects HGA with landscape by Halvorson Design

Lakewood Cemetery Mausoleum by architects HGA with landscape by Halvorson Design

It’s an age-old dilemma for the modern era. People are more cost-conscious, nomadic, and aware of the environmental impact that comes with conventional burial and cremation. The same challenges as before remain, but bring with them exciting opportunities to adapt and provide a mix of services to meet the needs of a changing population:

  • Cemeteries are running out of space and finding it difficult to expand and meet needs of a changing demographic

  • To reduce funeral costs, many people are opting for cremation

  • Being able to meet the needs of a variety of cultures and religious practices allows cemetery to adapt to changing population

  • People looking to connect with nature are seeking alternatives, such as green burial and conservation land memorials

  • The Death Positive Movement has driven new interest in cemeteries as social places and sources of connection, which opens doors to a number of possibilities for engaging with the public

Halvorson Design has tackled a variety of the challenges facing today’s cemeteries, and we bring a forward-thinking approach to cemetery planning and design. We are thrilled to see new conservation burial grounds being created throughout the country, and we are excited to help cemeteries offer alternative memorials, introduce green burials, or plan flexible spaces that allow them to host events and raise funds in new and exciting ways.

Walnut Hills Cemetery, Brookline, MA (photo by Ngoc Doan)

Walnut Hills Cemetery, Brookline, MA (photo by Ngoc Doan)

Some of our services include:

  • Adaptive reuse and preservation of existing cemeteries

  • Rehabilitation and re-purposing of abandoned or inactive cemeteries

  • Design for the living by creating cathartic places of beauty, healing, and community with gardens, walking trails, etc.

  • Prioritizing the natural landscape through ecological intervention

  • Enhancing dual cemetery role as park, arboretum and/or garden

  • Planning for green burial practices and alternative memorialization

  • Assisting with permitting and other regulatory challenges related to development of conservation burial grounds/hybrid cemeteries

Our cemetery design team—led by landscape architect/planner Vesna Maneva, landscape architect Iris Lin, and marketing director Jo Oltman, who recently joined the board of Green Burial Massachusetts—is passionate about helping cemeteries enhance their existing spaces, plan new memorial grounds, and offer exciting new services. With the support and expertise of Principal landscape architects and planners Craig Halvorson, Cynthia Smith, Chuck Kozlowski, Bryan Jereb, and others, we are ready to step boldly into this new era of cemetery planning and design.

Are you ready to come with us?

Photo by Ngoc Doan

Photo by Ngoc Doan