2024 UDAD 🏆 Awards

Gold Winner | Cascade Mausoleum | Mitchell Wall Architecture and Design

The Cascade Mausoleum was a very special project for MWAD. Not only is it the first new mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery in over 70 years, but we were also given creative freedom by the client to develop the concept. The result is one of our most inspired works. Using the client’s faith as the basis for design, we created a grid system that overlaps the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the three primary elements of man: mind, body, spirit. The intersection of these grid lines establishes the location for the meaningful and influential moments of the design. 

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Gold 🏆 Winner
Urban Design & Architecture Design Awards 2024

Cascade Mausoleum
Cultural Architecture (Built)

Mitchell Wall Architecture and Design

Thomas Wall

Design Team
Tarlton Corporation (General Contractor), Eureka Forge (Iron Gates), Emil Frei Art Glass (Stained Glass), Abraham Mohler (Sculptor), Mason Made (Stone Distributor)

Bellefontaine Cemetery

United States

©Alise O’Brien Photography

When observing the building, there are three distinct areas one can occupy:

  • The Ground Level: Life. You are out amongst the trees and plants. It is lush and vibrant. You are in the land of the living. 
  • The Crypt Level: Death. As you walk up the stairs, you are met with an immense amount of stone. The wings of the level above cantilever over you, threatening you with burial. The Crypt is constructed of polished black granite that shows your reflection to serve as a reminder that you, too, one day will die.
  • The Top Level: Afterlife. The ascension to the top of the stairs brings you closer to the cross at the forefront. From this angle, you can see perfectly through the cross into the sky beyond. The cross also happens to function as a sundial, registered with the North American Sundial Society #1042. On December 20th at noon (a date important to the client), a projection of the cross shines onto the landing at the Crypt Level.

The cross is built into a large wall that spans 9 feet upwards, preventing view of the nearby city streets. If you turn around at the landing, you can see one of the most majestic pines in the cemetery in the center between the arms of the mausoleum. By continuing around the corner and climbing the stairs, you are given a unique and breathtaking view of the cemetery, a reminder that death is not the end, but another beginning. Your soul continues, but in a whole new experience.

The cross at the top of the stairs is cut into a 9′ x 9′ x 2′ thick granite block.  This massive slab impedes the view of the nearby city streets and coaxes the viewer to turn at the landing and continue their journey up the opposing stair. Once at the apex of the building, the viewer is gifted a unique and breathtaking view of the cemetery, a reminder that death is not the end, but another beginning. Your soul continues but in a whole new experience.

The style of this building is Expressionist Architecture, meaning it is designed to evoke a feeling or an emotion. It was vastly different from other projects because it did not require systems such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, or other elements typical in architecture, allowing the building to become largely sculptural. It is classified in the same building category as a grain silo. The mausoleum is oriented on Astronomical North as opposed to Magnetic North. There is a difference of about 1 degree. This was necessary in order to have the solar alignment work correctly on December 20th.

Our work on the Mausoleum was full service in every sense of the word. We worked with the client to select the site and develop the design. We collaborated on all feature elements (glass, gates, and stone). We maintained a presence throughout construction, and we oversaw the entire process from beginning to end. 

You are welcome to visit Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO, and personally experience the Cascade Mausoleum for all it has to offer. 

Photos by Alise O’Brien Photography and MWAD staff.