Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to share his architecture and design ideas through speculative projects. His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Designing the Sky Mausoleum

Designing the Sky Mausoleum

As everything in my life begins to settle into a new routine, I’ve made time to focus on designing the Sky Mausoleum project. My process always starts off with reclining in my chair, staring off into the sky, trees, or my ceiling, and thinking. From one idea, an evolution occurs and the idea is constantly criticized, expanded, and refined until I eventually have a mental image of a possible design. Here’s the evolution of the Sky Mausoleum’s design thus far.

A Night of Sketching

Sky Mausoleum Facade Sketch

While sitting in my studio space in my house, I searched for images of gothic cathedrals and admired the beauty of the arch openings for doorways and windows on the exterior of the building. As I continued looking through the photographs, an idea began to emerge in the form of questions.

“How can these gothic arches and stained glass windows be applied to the façade of a skyscraper?”

After asking this question, I leaned back in my chair and thought about the different ways a gothic arch could be applied to the façade of a skyscraper. To help narrow down the hundreds of ideas that I had, I began asking more questions.

“If we used a typical beam and column structure that’s based on a grid with an applied curtainwall, how can we apply these gothic arches to the façade?

“What would happen if we removed the curtainwall and applied a stone veneer with a stone Gothic arch and stained glass window at each bay?”

That last question was an important one because it would become the basis for the initial design of the Sky Mausoleum. Once I asked this question, I opened my sketchbook and began sketching one simple arch opening. This sketch slowly evolved and I sketched additional arches, the stone veneer, and the columns and beams clad in stone.

Translating the Sketch into a 3D Model

Sky Mausoleum Facade Design

After a night of sketching a possible elevation of the Sky Mausoleum, I began developing a Revit model of the building and worked on it for half of a day. The initial step was measuring the project site at 517 West 35th Street, NYC, NY 10001, which came to approximately 118 feet by 198 feet.

Once this boundary was created, I setup gridlines that would define the location of columns, beams, and bays where the detailed façade would reside. When the grid and columns were in place, I started working on the Revit family for the stained glass window and Gothic arch opening. This took about half an hour to develop and the result looks good.

When the Gothic arch window was complete, I placed one in a bay, duplicated it throughout one floor, and copied it to every floor above. This decision came from a design idea that every mausoleum would have two stained glass windows and its enclosure would be dictated by the column lines. This maintained an organized layout throughout the building while providing a comfortable amount of space for visitors to sit with their loved ones in a light filled room.

Sky Mausoleum Initial BIM Model


Although there’s a lot more thought that went on throughout the design of Sky Mausoleum, I wanted to share a very brief overview of the project with you. My next steps are to come up with an interior layout for all of the rooms, additional spaces in the building, egress, and ground floor layouts for the lobby and stores. Stay tuned for more updates on the project!

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