Columbarium Design – Dynamic, Bold & Innovative

Exceptional design demands excellent engineering, a passion for innovation, and a deep knowledge of the craft of columbarium and manufacturing, based on years of experience.   Sunset applies all of these characteristics to help architects and cemetery managers achieve their creative vision.  With 3 engineers on staff and one of the most experienced project managers in the industry, we have the talent and manufacturing capability to deliver results that exceeds customer expectations.  For example, Sunset was one of the first columbarium manufacturers to:

  • Educate customers of the advantages of 100% granite exteriors to eliminate the maintenance issues associated with concrete.  Note, Sunset is strongly convinced in the merit of this option and we aggressively price this feature to enable that extra customer value.
  • Introduce a simplified granite door system that is easy for all members of the cemetery staff to remove.
  • Develop a key locked inner aluminum security door to the niche that gives families the peace of mind that their loved ones are not left to the unsupervised environment of the cemetery. This door design not only makes the niche easier to sell, it also lowers the supervision costs, as it eliminates the need to have a manager or security guard present when the granite shutter is removed for inscription.
  • Develop the industry’s first Nylene based niche core design.  First developed by the military for use in their M1 Abrams tanks, and now used on the underbelly of the Predator Drones, Nylene is light, pound for pound stronger than steel and is inert to the environment so it will not degrade over time.
    It is valued in cemeteries in both northern climates as well as in the deep south because of its
    superior thermal characteristics over concrete, enabling cemeteries to completely avoid the stress cracking issues caused by extreme temperature swings.  The genius of incorporating Nylene into the columbarium is that customers can now obtain a product that not only delivers superior engineering performance, it also has an aesthetically appealing, smooth molded look that is waterproof and maintenance free.  Imagine no longer having to worry about the integrity of the caulking of an all granite niche, or the cracking of a concrete product!Create the industry’s first inclined niches for the bottom row of the columbarium.  We call it “The Ascension”. This design has effectively turned the hardest selling niches on the columbarium into the most valued.  They are not only larger for family use, their granite doors face upward towards the visitor and are thus more predominant. The attractive and unique nature of these watertight niches enable cemeteries to enhance their columbarium profits.  

Imagine tapping into that same experts who developed these industry firsts for your own columbarium design!  Our forte is leveraging our knowledge acquired from across North America, to collaboratively add value to the projects of cemetery staff, landscape architects and cemetery contractors.   Perhaps the one characteristic that both professional and novice columbarium designers appreciate the most about working with Sunset is not our broad international experience, or our deep 26 year of manufacturing experience, but our collaborative, inclusive approach to columbarium design.  

All of our designs are in-house, and this gives us the unique ability to make things very simple for people who may have an excellent knowledge of design, but less exposure to the pragmatic considerations of the columbarium business.  Sunset’s services can range from assisting columbarium designers on how to sell their ideas to key decision makers with preliminary renderings, all the way up to merging of CAD columbarium designs into the designer’s landscape files.

Best of all – this need not be an expensive, overwhelming process as best indicated by our web page testimonials.  

Contact our columbaria specialists who will assist you with any questions about your project.

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Why Choose a Landscape Architect?

Sunset is about to let you in on a little secret that not too many of our competitor’s appreciate.  Have you ever wondered why some columbarium photos just “pop” and “wow”, while others are uninspiring and blah?  There is often a misconception by people who have not had much columbarium design experience, that the process of designing a new fabulous columbarium starts with someone drafting up a series of niches in a form that looks attractive.  Although this is definitely one way to accomplish the goal, Sunset has come to appreciate over the years that its best designs, with the highest probability of success have started with the landscape. A good design ensures that all elements “fit” together to complement each other, and to achieve this, it is significantly simpler to mold the columbarium to the landscape, than visa-versa.   

The challenge facing Landscape Architects has always been to demonstrate to prospective clients their unique abilities to achieve this fit, without giving away their intellectual property.  Therefore to some extent, the decision to use a professional architect is like taking a leap of faith. Sunset of course cannot guarantee your investment in a landscape architect will financially pay off, but we can definitively state that this investment substantially lowers the risk of your much larger investment in the cemetery. It is the Landscape Architect working in collaboration with the columbarium designer, that can make the difference between a solitary structure standing lonely in the middle of a field that nobody would pay a dime to be associated with, to a beautiful columbarium garden setting that can become a proud and profitable contributor to your community’s heritage.  

With this new insight, see if you can now spot the professional landscape design versus the do-it-yourself approach, and judge for yourself if your community can afford not to use a professional.  As with any industry, you have your good, experienced designers, and your not-so-good consultants. Do not hesitate to contact Sunset if you would like some guidance on choosing a cemetery landscape architect that is right for your cemetery.

Why Choose a Landscape Architect?

The use of a well-defined set of columbarium design guidelines is the most efficient way for you to achieve your design goals.  The process is most effectively achieved in the following order, however, readers should know that to some extent, achieving a well-balanced design may take one or more iterations of this process:

1. Start your cemetery design based on a Cemetery Master Plan.  Investing in a sound cemetery master plan, can be the most financially beneficial decision you can make.   The initial investment up front could save enormous amounts of money years down the road. Nothing is worse than being forced to accommodate a former mistake because as we well know, in the cemetery business once the decision is made, it is there for eternity.

A thorough cemetery master plan is also a crucial statistical resource for cemetery operations. Cemetery landscape architects pair interment numbers with demographic research in order to provide cemetery boards and management with solid numbers and statistical projections that lay the foundations for sound decision.  These detailed cemetery master plans are the keystone that supports future cemetery operations and provides direction for future cemetery management and cemetery contractors.

2. Define a phase to be developed within the Cemetery Master Plan that can realistically be achieved within the budgetary constraints of your organization. If there is a columbarium style that appeals to you, we encourage you to call us to assist you.

We at Sunset Memorial understand that as a parish council member, civic administrator, or cemetery manager you need to possess a wide variety of skills that may not include financial analysis.  For this reason, we have created tools including a columbarium financial calculator that can assist you in the creation of your own columbarium design guidelines. By using this tool, along with Sunset’s knowledge and support, you can significantly simplify what will become the financial boundaries around your project.

3.Establish the development phase’s layout and columbarium floor plan.  The beauty of Sunset’s custom design work is that our structures can be shaped to whatever you need.  That said, the columbarium floor plan can have significant implications to the overall cost of your project, and Sunset’s guidance
will help you optimize the columbarium’s fit with the landscape design, while minimizing the financial impact of the design.

4. Integrate the columbarium floor plan with the phase’s detailed landscape design.  You may possess the necessary skills to effectively do this, however, if you are at all uncertain, you may want to work with a Landscape Architect.  Landscape architects have the design knowhow to address:

    1. grade elevations,
    2. drainage issues,
    3. public accessibility,
    4. visitor engagement,
    5. expertise in native foliage placement.
    6. appropriate columbarium layout
    7. site line limitations
    8. how to accentuate existing architecture features.  
    9. how to apply color, texture and sculptural form to a space.
    10. local demographic demands for cremation interment