A new 10,000 square foot visitors center will be constructed outside the main west gate of historic Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park.
Historic Oakland Foundation said the building, designed by Smith Dalia Architects (see renderings above), will include a museum store, an atrium that will host interpretive exhibits, flexible multipurpose classroom and event space, rentable meeting space, and offices for the organization.
The exterior of the visitors center – clad in red brick as homage to the cemetery’s walls and walkways – will feature a garden, entry plaza, and a great lawn to provide additional greenspace.
The project is expected to break ground later this year.
Historic Oakland Foundation Executive Director Richard Harker said the new building will also provide space for more diverse, weatherproof, and year-round programming including civic forums, K-12 programming, and adult education programs.
“Oakland Cemetery uniquely reflects our city’s rich, diverse past, and we have long desired to be an organization that can convene city-wide discussions about our collective history and its ever-evolving meaning today,” Harker said. “This new building will allow us to achieve that aspiration.”
The building will also serve as an amenity to the Memorial Drive Greenway, the linear park that begins at Oakland’s main gate and extends along Memorial Drive all the way to the State Capitol.
“We are excited about providing a community resource that also connects to exciting developments around the BeltLine, the rapidly changing landscape of Memorial Drive, and the rejuvenation of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood and the forthcoming Hero Walk to our north,” said Harker
During construction, the Foundation will move its offices to temporary buildings outside the main gate at 273 Oakland Ave. SE.
The historic Bell Tower, which previously served as a visitors center, gift shop, and office space, will become a flexible event, exhibit, classroom, and meeting space. The circa-1899 Bell Tower is currently undergoing at $12 million rehabilitation.