The Cress Center is the product of a total interior and exterior renovation of a 1960’s funeral home that was built in a very nondescript Prairie style. The facility is located on University Avenue, just minutes from the University at Wisconsin and the heart of Madison. The location could not have been better, but the building lacked distinguishable style and visibility.
The client wanted to take advantage of this high profile location and to make the building usage meet the needs of their current clients.
To increase visibility and style, a 25’ tower with the “The Cress Center” in lights was added. The existing brick was painted; stone columns and water table were added to give a definite style to the exterior. Unused carports were enclosed to provide additional useable space to accommodate the changing needs of the business.
The interior of the existing facility was taken down to the studs so that new mechanical, electrical, lighting, data and audio/visual could be added. The wing of the building that originally housed four small visitation rooms that could be configured in numerous combinations with the use of everyone’s favorite accordion partitions! This area was completely opened up to be one large multi-purpose room with state of the art audio/visual equipment. This area is designed to be flexible and can accommodate 175 for a chapel service; 100 for a sit down dinner and everything between.
The opposite wing of the existing building was the location for a traditional 24 casket selection room and arrangement offices. This area was opened up and expanded to accommodate an elegant and versatile reception area that can be set up for dining for 100 or a cocktail/mixer for up to 175 when guests spill onto the elevated stone terrace that overlooks the surrounding area. The terrace is complete with a stately stone fireplace and convenient granite topped serving bar.
The center of the facility was gutted as well to make room for handsomely appointed handicap accessible restrooms, spacious lobby and receptionist work station that have the comfort and style of a boutique hotel.
The underutilized lower level was completely renovated to be the location for the “Care Center” for all of the Cress Funeral Homes in the Madison area. Included in this portion of the project are a two table embalming suite; and an isolation room for special situations and religious ceremonies. Adjacent to the embalming suite is an oversized dressing room, with a washer and dryer, holding area, and individual “lockers” for personal belongings of the deceased. This area was also designed to meet the needs of the Care Center staff with a locker room and shower facilities, work stations for each employee, and an “Embalmers Lounge” complete with recliners and HDTV!
This level is also the location for a crematory with a comforting viewing lounge for the family to use during the cremation process.
As important as the architectural portion of the project was to the client, the interior design was even more important to accomplish their goal. The overall concept was for the facility to be uplifting, calm, stylish, flexible and durable. This was accomplished by using tile in heavy traffic areas, hospitality quality carpets, carpet tiles and fabrics, all chosen with an eye towards enduring style and a peaceful color palette.
The end result is a facility that can be used for funerals, memorial, receptions, meetings, seminars, civic groups and celebrations…all under one low profile Prairie style roof.
- 15,185 Sq. Ft.
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Prairie style architecture
- Total renovation of existing facility
- Flexible multipurpose floor plan
- Chapel seats 175
- Reception seats 100+
- Outside stone terrace with stone fireplace
- Care Center for centralized embalming and dressing
- Embalmers Lounge
- Viewing Lounge
- Interior design services provided