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Case Study: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Administrative Building, Coram, New York

Case Study: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Administrative Building, Coram, New York

The Diocese of Rockville Centre originally dedicated The Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram, NY in 1942.  It has since grown to become one of the major Catholic cemeteries in Long Island’s Suffolk County.  The cemetery’s management recently decided to improve its offices and the facilities, serving the families of the deceased by constructing a new administrative building.  The diocese retained BBS Architects & Engineers of Patchogue, New York, as the project’s architect and interior designer. Stalco Construction, Inc., of Islandia, New York, joined the team as general contractor.

According to BBS Principal and the project’s lead designer Roger P. Smith, AIA, LEED AP, the client’s functional requirements called for the new structure to serve a variety of uses.  “The new building was to house the cemetery management and personnel’s offices, family meeting rooms, a lobby accessible to the public, public restrooms for visitors, and records storage space,” he explains.

“Many materials and design elements were selected to reflect both the religious character of the facility and its association with the cemetery function,” recalls BBS’ Karalisa R. Grudner, AIA, LEED AP, who was a member of the architectural team.  “For example, we incorporated the Baltic Brown granite, present in both the cemetery’s chapel and mausoleums, into the exterior and interior of the new building.”  A hip pitch roof and a small copula above the north entrance also suggest the religious aspect of the building’s function.  A custom designed aluminum cross tops the copula.

The color palette of the exterior compliments the brown granite section of the façade and includes brick banding around and below the windows, textured beige stucco walls, and brown rain gutters and architectural accents. The exterior stair leading to the south entrance features fieldstone and pavers visually corresponding to the brick banding.  The southern façade showcases a religious relief/plaque.

Both entrances, situated in the south and north sides of the building, feature porticos increasing the visibility of the entrances and serving as weather-protected congregation areas for families and mourners.

For budget reasons, the building’s basement extends beneath only half of the structure’s footprint.  The basement houses the mechanical room and a large open space with a concrete slab floor to be potentially used for storage.

Interior design

Reintroduction of the Baltic Brown granite provides the architectural connection between the structure’s exterior and interior.  Granite accents include the reception counter and granite edging and decorative patterns inlaid in the lobby’s porcelain tile floor.  The architectural lines of the façade also carry into the interior, providing a visual continuity and communicating the public access.

Tracy Hansen, who led BBS’ interior design team, describes the lobby’s design as a combination of a double-height volume evoking a sense of grandeur and materials and colors meant to provide peaceful surroundings to relatives facing the task of discussing funeral arrangements. “The lobby’s cathedral ceiling suggest the religious character of the facility, while green wall coverings and stained oak trim bring warmth and serenity to the space,” she explains.  All windows throughout the facility feature stained oak frames.

Three family service rooms provide cozy, warm, and relaxed surroundings for families meeting with the cemetery employees.  The rooms feature brown vinyl wall covering and green carpet tile flooring that complement dark brown and green furniture, including conference tables and upholstered chairs.

The building houses four private offices for the management and five workstations for administrative staff, located in the space adjacent to the lobby reception desk area.

Public bathrooms, accessible through a separate, unsupervised entrance and an anteroom, are located in the northern section of the building.  The bathrooms feature stainless steel partitions for durability, solid surface vanities, and brown Zebrano-style wall tiles.  The anteroom’s finishes include brown granite wall tiles and porcelain floor tiles.

Construction challenges

According to Stalco Construction’s Vice President of Operations Kevin Dunathan, the project’s main challenges were related to logistics, permitting and approval procedures, and purchasing and fabricating custom and long-lead items.

“Because of the structure’s public use, each major system and each phase of the construction process underwent a thorough inspection by the Town of Brookhaven Planning, Environment & Land Management and Building and Fire Prevention Departments, which follow a very detailed building code and approval procedures,” he says.  “The inspected elements included the foundations, rebar system, steel framing, insulation, and all MEP systems.  We developed communications procedures that called for advance notifications of the township personnel and scheduling of inspections in a manner that didn’t delay the project.”

James Garrahan, RLA, Project Manager with Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI), which served as owner’s representative and master plan designer, adds: “Keeping the construction process on schedule required a concerted team effort and coordination with the local government, utilities, and all project team members.  GPI’s construction inspectors, experienced in managing the permitting procedures in the local jurisdiction, collaborated closely with Stalco personnel to ensure that approvals were in place at the beginning of each new construction phase.  This pro-active and highly cooperative approach of the entire team expedited the completion and prevented potentially costly delays.”

The southern façade features a 4’ x 6’ fiberglass, bronze-colored, religious relief/plaque fastened to the wall with a complex stainless steel clip system custom fabricated by Hohmann & Barnard, Inc.

Stalco performed construction on the grounds of a functioning, busy cemetery, which necessitated frequently halting the work to accommodate funeral processions.

The roof design called for a custom-engineered support structure.  The hip and ridge structure, composed of tubular steel rafters, was one of the project’s long-lead items, as the building department’s approval process took several months.  Other long-lead items included extensive custom-designed solid oak millwork, high-quality granite quarried in Finland, custom storefronts, the roof copula, and selected MEP system elements.

Construction process

“The site and structural work encompassed excavation for the 14-foot-deep re-bar and concrete-spread footing foundation and construction of the steel structure, and concrete masonry unit (CMU) and brick walls,” recalls Stalco Superintendent Richard Feis. “The steel structure features seven five-inch by five-inch tube columns with a height of 14-16 feet.  The columns are anchored with bolt connections to 24-inch by 24-inch pier footings.  The hip and ridge roof support structure encompasses rafters engineered from 16-inch by five-inch by half-inch tube steel members.”

The exterior stucco finish is applied directly to the CMU walls.  1,500 square feet of the Baltic Brown granite is attached to the exterior walls with stainless steel anchors.  For visual effect, the architect specified the granite panels in varying sizes, which Stalco installed in the predetermined positions on the walls and the columns of the colonnade on the west side of the building.  The stucco-finished area of the exterior wall features Fry Reglet drywall reveals that create horizontal recesses matching the geometry of granite panels.  The reveals are screw-fastened to CMUs.

The building has eleven 40-inch x 72-inch Marvin windows with custom, champagne-colored exterior aluminum cladding over solid oak frames that are visible in the interiors.  The windows feature double low-E glass panels.

Two entrances feature vestibules with exterior and interior aluminum and glass storefronts.  The main entrance is ten feet wide by 12 feet high.  The aluminum elements are custom-finished in champagne color.  All storefronts feature low-E glass.

The interiors showcase high-end finishes, including Crossville Buenos Aires Mood 24-inch by 24-inch and 12-inch by 12-inch porcelain floor tiles with 80 linear feet of Crossville Hammered Copper 2-inch by 12-inch tile border and inlaid Baltic Granite patterns in the main lobby. Other flooring materials include Interface carpet tiles in three color/design patterns: 5036 Meteor, 50730 Coffee, and 5856 Sage; and VCT tiles in the copy, records, and IT rooms and on stair landings.

Both the main lobby and family meeting rooms feature vinyl wall coverings.  In the lobby, Stalco installed green JM Lynne 20-oz Hyden 8F-92-40 covering.  The family rooms feature Aubergine (dark brown) Lavina Silk Type 2 CD2-LV-3-17 covering.

The interiors house six aluminum and glass doors and main entrances and 31 solid oak doors in the interiors, including 11 with raised panels.  The oak doors feature curved profile hollow steel frames in a custom color and Ives by Schlage hardware, in matching color.

All ceilings are UL-listed with high fire rating.  The 18-foot high lobby features a 18 feet by 30 feet painted drywall, metal stud construction vault ceiling with stained oak light soffit.  In other spaces, Stalco installed USG Fineline 2-foot by 2-foot grid acoustical tile ceiling system.

The quality of interior finishes is accentuated by the lighting fixtures, which include four suspended, Shaper Lighting polished copper 464 CFL 1/32-SCP S63 round pendants in the lobby, public bathroom anteroom, and two vestibules.  The largest, 42-inch diameter pendant on a 48-inch stem is located in the lobby.  The other three pendant fixtures are 36 inches in diameter and suspended on 36-inch stems.

Other lighting fixtures include nine semi-recessed Shaper lights, hi-hat lights with fluorescent bulbs, and 2-foot by 4-foot recessed lights in the basement.

Stalco installed an extensive amount of custom millwork and cabinetry.  In addition to the light soffit in the lobby, stained solid oak millwork includes interior window wood trims with crown moldings.  Cabinetry includes an oak display case and P-laminate administrative staff desks with Formica tops and oak banding.

The mechanical system encompasses one 40-gallon hot water boiler and one heating boiler in the basement mechanical room, four air-handling units in the attic, and four air-conditioning condenser units on concrete platforms outside of the building.  The four air-handling units service separate sections of the building, each with individual thermostat controls for both cooling and heating.

Information provided by Stalco Construction, Inc., 1316 Motor Parkway, Islandia, NY 11749  http://www.stalcoconstruction.com


Client:              The Diocese of Rockville Centre

Catholic Cemeteries

111 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY 11590

Architect/interior designer,

MEP engineer:        BBS Architects & Engineers

244 East Main Street,?Patchogue, NY 11772

General contractor:        Stalco Construction, Inc.

1316 Motor Parkway, Islandia, NY 11749

Structural engineer:        Ysrael A. Seinuk, P.C.

228 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017

Owner’s representative,

Master Plan/Site designer:  Greenman Pedersen, Inc.

325 West Main Street, Babylon, NY 11702


Square footage:        6,500

Stories:        two

Construction cost:      $2.7 million

TAGS: Stage Design
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