Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Seneca County, New York
United States
Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetary

TYLin provided master planning services and led the team to convert a portion of the former Sampson Air Force Base into the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Seneca County, New York.

Understanding the unique challenges of a county-owned and -operated Veterans Cemetery, TYLin delivered the project under strict cost controls.  

The cemetery is located on 162 acres of one of the most significant military sites in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. The site was originally part of a World War II Naval Training Station that was later rededicated as an Air Force Basic Training Center during the Korean War era. More than 750,000 U.S. sailors and airmen were trained at this site.  

The TYLin team initially provided programming and design for Phase I of the cemetery master plan. Phase 1 included extensive utility, drainage, roadway, parking, and site work as well as the exterior restoration of the former firehouse structure for use as the Cemetery Administration Building. When additional funds were secured, TYLin led the team to complete the building’s interior renovation.

Interior renovations included cemetery offices, a reception area, a meeting room, public restroom facilities, a memorial sanctuary, and support spaces. Custom stained glass was used, featuring the U.S. Armed Forces service branch insignias with abstract, colorful landscape shapes evocative of the region. The strategic west-facing orientation of the windows provides a dramatic diffusion of color throughout the ceremonial space in the afternoon.

The firetruck bays were redesigned as a multi-functional space and serve as a formal entry foyer and assembly space to support the cemetery’s mission. The setting allows for the solemn remembrance of the lives and service of military veterans while meeting the needs of family members.  

The Master Plan also included a proposal to transform the former boiler building into a columbarium, employing a sustainable and sensitive adaptation of an existing structure. The concept provided over 1,600 burial niches, interior gathering space, exterior reflecting pool, niche locator kiosk, and public restrooms. The concrete coal silo was redesigned to serve as an elevator shaft and support a 60-foot-high observation deck offering views of the entire cemetery, Seneca Lake, and the surrounding countryside.  

By incorporating existing historic structures into the cemetery program, the site’s rich history has been preserved. The TYLin team created a picturesque setting to serve as the final resting place for more than 100,000 veterans. 

Project Highlights: 

  • The project included the design and construction of a boulevard-style access entry from Route 96A, roadway rehabilitation and new roadway segments, parking areas, and paving (including cold recycling of asphalt concrete).
  • TYLin oversaw utility installation (electric, water supply, and telecommunications) and site drainage improvements.
  • An individual sewage disposal system was installed, along with site preparation, grading, and landscaping. 
  • The Guard House was reconstructed to serve as a Public Information Center
  • Construction of an outdoor committal shelter as well as other cemetery site features, including paved walkways, walls, flagpoles, watering stations, fencing, and signage.
  • The building’s hose tower was repurposed as a shaft for a new elevator and carillon system, and the remaining stairwell was restored.
  • The building program was established by adhering to the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) Facilities Guidelines. 

Photo Credit: Tim Wilkes Photography


Design Excellence Award (Administration Building), 2014
American Institute of Architects (AIA) Rochester
Design Excellence Award (Columbarium), 2012
AIA Rochester