Raleigh Report

Raleigh picks landscape architect to design Dorothea Dix Park

Big Red’s balloon ride let people play inside a giant partially inflated balloon (without their shoes) during the first annual Destination Dix community festival at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh last July.
Big Red’s balloon ride let people play inside a giant partially inflated balloon (without their shoes) during the first annual Destination Dix community festival at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh last July. hlynch@newsobserver.com

The same company that designed Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York will help Raleigh design a destination park on the Dorothea Dix property in downtown Raleigh.

Dix Park planners selected Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates as their lead consultant in developing the park, Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced Tuesday. The city spent $52 million to buy the 308-acre former psychiatric hospital campus from the state several years ago and last year established a structure to plan the park over the coming years.

The Dix Park executive committee – led by McFarlane and members of the Dix Park Conservancy, a private non-profit group – selected MVVA from 18 teams of landscape architects and design firms.

MVVA most recently earned praise for its work on Brooklyn Bridge Park, where it transformed a dilapidated area into an 85-acre waterfront park. The American Society of Landscape Architects selected MVVA as “Firm of the Year” in 2016 for its work on the Brooklyn park, according to the company’s website.

The Dix committee also considered West 8 and Sasaki, which has worked on parks across the world and has Raleigh’s Moore Square contract. Also considered was Nelson Byrd Woltz, a Virginia-based company that won an $18 billion competition to develop New York’s Hudson Yards.

“The Master Plan Executive Committee was extremely fortunate to have four incredibly talented consultants to choose from,” McFarlane said in a statement. “However, Michael Van Valkenburgh rose above the rest as the consultant best able to develop a master park plan that reflects the past, captures the present and reveals the future of Dorothea Dix Park. Raleigh is a hub of innovation, and I am so excited to see what Michael is able to accomplish in partnership with our wonderful community here in Raleigh.”

Raleigh and the Dix Park Conservancy have budgeted $3 million to pay for developing a master plan for the park.

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht

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