The Dorothea Dix Hospital was a psychiatric hospital located on 308 acres in Raleigh, North Carolina. After over 150 years of service, the hospital is now closed. In 2015, the City of Raleigh acquired the property and opened it as a park to the public. The city is currently working on a masterplan for the longterm vision of the park.
What activities and amenities will be included in the future of this park? The Dix Park Committee held a community meeting at the new Union Station in October of 2018 in order to address these questions and take suggestions from the good people of Raleigh.
The Dix park staff wanted this event to be fun and engaging, so they looked to us to design and fabricate 6 ft-tall dimensional letters that spelled "#DIXPARK". They hoped the life-sized hashtag would inspire attendees to express their excitement and park dreams on social media.
We interviewed our Fabrication Manager, David Healey, to learn more about the process...
Have you ever fabricated life-sized, dimensional letters, before? or anything similar?
"No, this was a first for me. However, giant dimensional letters are becoming very popular and I expect will have more projects like this one in the future."
What materials were used to fabricate the letters?
"Our client wanted the letters to be light, temporary and easy to store. So we cut the letters out of 3/4" maple ply (plywood) and sandwiched the wood with insulated foam to create more dimensional while adding minimal weight to the structures. Each letter had its own 1/2" sintra base."
What were some of the biggest challenges in creating the letters?
"Honestly, the sheer size of the letters made it difficult. Also, we had to apply plaster and latex paint over the foam to create a solid finish. The plaster and paint are prone to damage while transporting the letters so we had to be extra careful during our installation."
Is there anything you would do differently if you had to do the project over again?
"Given that these letters were for temporary use, I think we did the best we could. Had it been for long term use, I think we could have used a denser foam and a hard coat instead of plaster."
The letters were successfully transported to Union Square on the day of the event. Many attendees interacted with them throughout that afternoon and into the evening, taking selfies and posting them to their social media page using the hashtag. More importantly, several great presentations, discussions, and ideas were shared at the meeting to help shape the future of Dix Park.