Raleigh picks renowned landscape architect Van Valkenburgh

Dorothea Dix property

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Raleigh officials have tapped world-renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to lead the creation of a master plan for Dorothea Dix Park.

A committee led by the city’s mayor had recommended that Van Valkenburgh’s firm, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, be awarded the work.

A city news release stated that, during the committee’s work, the company “emerged as the preferred consultant to lead a park planning process that will feature robust community engagement and outreach.”

“The Master Plan Executive Committee was extremely fortunate to have four incredibly talented consultants to choose from,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said in a news release. “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!”

Van Valkenburgh has overseen projects at Princeton and Harvard universities and the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, among others. He is currently overseeing the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

“This is an important and exciting day for our community,” said Jim Goodmon, board chair of Dix Park Conservancy, in the news release. “With Michael leading the effort, it’s clear that we have a real opportunity to create something bold and visionary at Dix Park – something that will both serve and define us for generations to come. Here we go!”

Van Valkenburgh will take leave from his duties as a professor at Harvard to devote his time to the Dix Park project, the news release states.

“A true and deeply rewarding pleasure in my professional life is park-making …,” Van Valkenburgh said in the reelase. “The generosity of (Dix Park’s) 308 acres, so close to a vibrant and walkable downtown, the borrowed landscape of Raleigh’s Downtown skyline, the rich architectural history of the site and legacy of the associated social welfare, and the promise of a site still waiting for its greatest potential to be unlocked, poised to transform with the city around it — these are the kinds of things I hope for in every park planning project.”

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