Outdoor interpretive signs at Spring Lake Park Reserve near Hastings, MN
Client: Dakota County Parks
Role: Project coordinator and graphic designer as an employee of the 106 Group
Primary goal: Design and coordination for interpretive postcards and signs
Outdoor sign planning and final product with cutout lettering in COR-TEN steel frames and phenolic resin interpretive panels
Spring Lake Park Reserve, in the Dakota County Parks system, contains a beautiful place called Schaar’s Bluff along the Mississippi River. Park planners were looking for “light touch” interpretive elements on site.
As part of a team at the 106 Group, I designed a series of postcards to showcase the cultural, historical, and natural history of the site. Instead of creating a normal site brochure, I decided to create multiple postcards, each with a different story of the site. When visitors collect all the postcards, they can learn about each story, as well as the story of the whole site.
The bluff views over the Mississippi River have attracted visitors for over 8,000 years (which has been proven archaeologically). Besides the postcards, I also designed low-profile interpretive signs to blend into the landscape while sharing the interpretive messages of the site.
Inside the lobby of the new gathering center on site, I also designed a larger interpretive sign asking the visitors to search the park for the outdoor interpretive signs. On special events days, the staff use the postcards and signs as a scavenger hunt. After a visitor discovers a sign, they are rewarded with one of the postcards. After they collect all the postcards, they can either keep their postcard book, or mail the postcards to friends and family.
In a later phase, the parks planners wanted to tell the story of the reuse of rain water in the toilets. The restrooms, an often overlooked area for interpretation, provided the perfect location to tell this water use story.