This project proposes converting Chicago’s Old Post Office building, which has fallen to disuse, into an urban burial site for the people of Chicago, and in turn anticipates that a new burial ritual involving the adjacent Chicago River would evolve out of this re-adaptation, becoming unique to the city. The project proposes a landing on the Chicago River where funeral barges can disembark, leading up a ramp to large corten steel doors, that open to reveal the Old Post Office lobby, now reprogrammed as a Remembrance Hall, with funeral chapels lining it on one side. The funeral chapels lead to a bank of elevators that transport the funeral party up to the crypt levels above.
Light and air enter the crypt levels through the open metal façade, whose repetition alludes back to the repetitious workspaces of the adjacent Loop. The new façade, over the rear of the existing building, allows for vertical expansion and serves to reorient the building to the river, while a corten steel cladding at the highway tunnel that slices through the building punctuates that threshold moment when one enters the Loop. On the roof, gardens provide a place for quiet reflection in the city, while serving to reduce the urban “heat island” effect.