Assembly – Oakey’s

Oakey’s Funeral Service & Crematory, with five chapel locations in the Roanoke Valley, hired CIRCLE to design an addition to their south chapel to include more office space, an arrangement room, a selection room, and the Valley’s first dedicated cremation center with an assembly space for families to gather for funerals.

Although the appearance of the exterior addition would match the colonial style of the existing building, the challenge was to create a modern style for the interior unlike that of its other chapels. The design needed to combine the cremation and assembly spaces to make the cremation process visible to families, as this was a request Oakey’s had seen from Roanoke’s shifting demographics.

Because of their meaning and symbolism in all religions, we developed a design concept based on the natural elements of water, earth, fire, and air. Visitors experience these elements through finish materials, furniture, artwork, and other visual features along the procession to the committal space.

The arrangement room includes a fireplace flanked with cherry stained cabinets as the focal piece. We gave the assembly space an airy feel through windows that open to an outdoor garden and give a view of the distant mountains. The walls behind the cremation table were tiled in autumn mist slate quarried from the earth in India. The background for all of these features is a neutral palette with accents of cherry wood ceiling finishes adding warmth and complimenting the use of other natural materials in the space. Oakey’s marketing team has coined the phrase “Elevating the Cremation Experience” to describe the completed space.


“Every facet of working with CIRCLE was easy and very professional; I never felt that we were just ‘another job’. The only problem is that they did such a fantastic job on the Cremation Center, all of our other locations are now clamoring for a makeover!”