Yurok Veteran’s Cemetery Architectural Design and Civil Engineering

LACO completed a master plan, including the architectural design and construction documents for the Yurok Veteran’s Cemetery on 20 acres on the Yurok Indian Reservation. Completed in the fall 2013, the Yurok Veteran’s Cemetery is the first Veteran’s Administration (VA) funded cemetery in the Nation. 

LACO, in very close collaboration with the Yurok Tribe (Tribe), prepared all of the design and construction documents in a record two months. The site was particularly challenging because the area is completely off-grid and electricity and water is not available.

This unique project blended VA requirements with Yurok cultural elements, both traditional and contemporary. The cemetery is open to all Indian Veteran’s in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties and includes 500 burial sites, a solar-powered committal shelter, a maintenance building, avenue of flags, a memorial kiosk, and associated infrastructure. A few design elements reflect the Tribe’s culture, such as a roofline that mimics the roofline of a traditional Yurok redwood plank house, a native plant landscape incorporating the ethnobotany of the Tribe, and a rainwater catchment system. A concrete wall stamped with Yurok basket designs displays the seals of all branches of the armed services. The entry gate includes the traditional “snakes nose” design in plate steel and iron, a traditional hand washing station, and compass-oriented burial plots round out the cultural designs.  The project also included a memorial walkway and a trail that meanders through the cemetery, which provides access to burial sites and creates a peaceful atmosphere (it was also a VA-required component).

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