Our project is a restoration and repurposing of a mid-century modern landscape within the cloisters of a Neo-Gothic cathedral – an historic landmark listed in the National Register. The intervention consists mainly of two new site walls. The first, a low granite wall takes its radius from the original modern fountain by Japanese American sculptor George Tsutakawa. The second wall of rough fieldstone retains the new burial mound where ashes are interred. By these, the space is divided into two distinct realms: the highly communal and lively fountain terrace, and at some remove, the peaceful repose of the burial ground. Importantly, the names of the dead are engraved on bronze bars attached to the granite wall employing a simple and elegant attachment system that is enduring, secure, user-friendly, and replicable for a century or more.

The adaptive reuse of this 1960’s cloistered garden by Meade Palmer, FASLA serves its new purpose as a place for the burial of the dead, as well as a setting for outdoor worship services (including weddings and baptism), and more generally as a welcome retreat open to the public through all hours of the day, and all days of the year. The new work employs a language and geometry consistent with that of the modern landscape, but at the same time is harmonious with, and not overwhelmed by, the monumental scale of the Cathedral.

Designed in collaboration with:
Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
David Tozer, Lighting Consultant
Gutierrez Studios, Metalwork
AllenBuilt, General Contractor

Photography by Anice Hoachlander


2021 District of Columbia Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation