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What to Consider When Designing your Columbarium


This question is often asked at committee meetings and in general discussion around the conference table with a group considering a columbarium for their organization.

Location, location, location? Do you want the columbarium outside or inside? If outside, do you want it close to the current building, near a door, is there already a garden area you would like the have the columbarium in. Are there air conditioning units near the site? Is there a slope, a hill, a dip in the land where you are considering? Are there trees or bushes that may need to be removed or moved? Do you want it in a courtyard? How is the courtyard accessed? Is the area a private area? If the columbarium is inside, is it easy to access? What will the schedule be for visitation? The list of questions can go on and on.

Since your columbarium partner will design a master plan for you, what are the dimensions of the entire area? What utilities need to be considered? What needs to be done so that the site is accessible for handicapped visitors? Is the site easy to access for installation? What material would you like to use? What type of niches do you want? Then there is memorialization. Do you want a bronze plaque? What size? 

Do you want statuary in the columbarium? What about a fountain, benches? Can any other items, such as a gazebo be included and used for other type of gathering.
What shape would you like it in? Do you want the columbarium up against a wall? Will sidewalks need to be included?

As you are thinking about all of the above, don’t forget the importance of making this area a place of spirit. Keep in mind those who will come to the memorial service of their loved one or who may come just to visit. Is the area peaceful? Is it calming? Will it be inviting, allowing a visitor to pray, reflect, and know God’s presence?
Taking the time to interview, analyze, review and conduct the due process needed to select or choose a fully functioning organization with an architect or a project designer with experience is a necessary step to a successful project and a program that will meet the needs of the entire organization. 

The professional columbarium organizations should have a project designer or an architect within the company and they will provide your committee with the facts needed to make a good business decision for the project to move forward. Do not eliminate this critical step in the committees list of responsibilities for the columbarium program; it could end up costing more money in the long run.

The success of the program is multi-faceted and overall design is one of the critical criteria in the project. Select an organization that offers a complete program: consulting, planning, directing, providing input for the complete program including architectural services as part of their overall program. By choosing this type of organization you will have a partner that will go through the process with you hand-in-hand. An architect that has completed several columbarium projects in various states and various locations should be part of this organization. A qualified architect or project designer is your best decision for moving forward with your plan. 

While brain surgery appears to be fairly simple, most people do not want to either do it themselves or have a rookie do the work. A qualified architect or project designer who has specialized in the columbarium design field will help insure the overall success of the program.

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