A private client hired the architect to design a new chapel and mausoleum building for St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Columbia, South Dakota. The owner wanted a sustainable chapel with the look of a prairie church – a building that his father, a former town mayor who took care of the cemetery decades ago, would be proud of. The use of precast made it possible to achieve these high-performance goals. The chapel resembles an old white church that was built by early settlers, however, it is a state-of-the-art structure that honors the past and will last decades into the future.
The new chapel and mausoleum building are designed to minimize maintenance and last as long as possible. To that end, exterior walls are precast concrete panels simulating wood clapboard lap siding, with metal stud framing on the interior. The roofing is made of lead and was installed by skilled European artisans. In fact, the lead roof is just the third of its kind in the United States.
The front canopy utilized precast elements to simulate a wood structure with columns and white precast truss features. The structure required load-bearing architectural finished wall panels to carry roof loading and in a portion of the structure, the walls also supported a hollow core plank mezzanine.
Interior features include exposed heavy timber trusses, porcelain tile floors, and painted gypsum board walls and ceilings to create a bright yet tasteful environment. The building envelope is sprayed with closed cell insulation, utilizes a geothermal heating and cooling system, and is lit with LED lighting and fixtures throughout. Other precast materials required for the chapel and mausoleum included a removable solid slab for a floor crypt and two thin-walled boxes for wall couch crypts.