Architects: Fennell Purifoy Architects
Location: Birdeye, Arkansas, USA
Area: 4,606 sqm
Completion: December 2011
Client: Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs
Landscape Architect: Ecological Design Group – Little Rock, AR
Contractor: Olympus Construction – Jonesboro, AR
Photographs: Ken West
Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye:
The Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye is located along Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway. In order to create a respectful memorial for our Veterans, the site was designed to take full advantage of this picturesque setting. The entire site consists of the burial sections, welcome center, maintenance facility, committal shelter, and honor guard area.
The integration of site and architecture enhances the existing site while memorializing the lives and service of Veterans. The welcome center is located on the western edge of the cemetery and forms a large arc with views out over the cemetery grounds. The front façade is more of a solemn space with simplistic materials of concrete and wood.
The building is organized around a central entrance canopy that opens up, welcoming the visitors into the space in a respectful way. The details begin to increase throughout the building, making it a livelier place as you reach the back of the building. The back façade opens up for a circular view of the cemetery, allowing visitors to celebrate the life of the soldiers.
The welcome center is comprised of a glue-laminated wood framed superstructure supported by either wood columns on concrete bases or concrete retaining walls. There are two types of exterior walls; one type is a 6” metal stud with insulation and prefinished bronze colored metal standing seam siding over gypsum sheathing, the other type is structural, board formed, concrete retaining walls. The roof is composed of tongue and groove wood decking underneath rigid insulation underneath a rolled asphalt sheet of a light, reflective color.
The committal shelter is located on the southeastern edge of the cemetery site overlooking the landscaped wetland. It is a quiet, dignified, covered pavilion set in the terrain with trees and vegetation. It is intended to provide a temporary shelter for an interment service to take place in a solemn manner.
It is located in an area visually isolated from the administrative, maintenance, and burial operations, sheltered from noise and casual visitors. It is not intended to be a focal point or strong visual element of the total cemetery experience. The shelter includes seating for 10-20 people, an uncovered paved area for approximately 50 additional people, a paved area for an Honor Guard, and a storage closet.
A board formed concrete bearing wall on the north side of the committal shelter provides both support for the roof and privacy from the adjacent drive. The shelter is comprised of glue–laminated superstructures resting on wood columns on the south side and on board formed cast in place concrete bearing wall on the north side. The roof of the committal shelter consists of three small roofs offset from one another. The roof construction is composed of tongue and groove wood decking under bronze colored standing seam metal roofing.