Gethsemani Funeral Home

Portland, Oregon

Completed: 2018


The Gethsemani Funeral Home responds to the Portland Catholic Cemetery’s desire to offer complete funeral arrangements and services. Currently Gethsemani Cemetery offers internment and memorialization arrangements, while a separate chapel is capable of small liturgical services. The addition and renovation to the administration building has increased their abilities to additionally offer preparation, arrangements, vigil services, and cremation.

In this graceful addition and reworking of a mid-century funeral home at the Portland Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley we turned to light, materials and nature. We expound upon the existing structure’s material build of stone and wood to connect the home to nature in a more conspicuous way. In the chapel, foundational white stone gives way to warm wood rising to 22 feet at the ceiling; one of two instances where we break the mid-century structure’s customary low horizontal profile. Light, strategically placed by clerestory windows to the north and a long slitted window to the south, streams to bring a contemplative warmth to the space. We’ve arranged the plan to cleverly screen the private and public sections from one another allowing funeral directors unseen access to all rooms while leaving services and mourners entirely undisturbed. We’ve re-landscaped the entry plaza in order to provide a softer, meditative transition from exterior to interior. Through material and light we’ve bound the structure to the earth to reference its temporalities—and hopefully we’ve created a space that allows for their eternal reflection.

Project Team:

Chris DiLoreto, Tracy Orvis, Chris LoNigro, Brian Melton

WDY, Inc, System Design Consultants, Inc, Acoustic Design Studio

Pete Eckert