Dorothea Dix Park Comfort Station Competition – Clark Nexsen Combustion Chamber

by Shann Rushing & Katelyn Ottaway
  Architecture, Competitions, Design

Dorothea Dix Park, located just outside of downtown Raleigh, features sweeping views of the city skyline.

Clark Nexsen’s Combustion Chamber serves as a vehicle to fuel experimentation and discovery within the professional realm of architectural design. The intent is to provide a place to exchange ideas that foster creativity and collaboration, propagating curiosity in the interest of sustained professional growth, driving better outcomes for clients, and fostering an engaged design culture within our firm.

One way the Combustion Chamber accomplishes these goals is through design competitions. This year, the annual Combustion Chamber Competition challenge was to design a moveable comfort station (a set of public restrooms and water fountains) for Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. The competition saw six entries and 15 architects and designers create solutions.  

The judges, which included Dean Perry, Senior Planner at Dorothea Dix Park; Kate Pearce, Executive Director at Dix Park; Matthew Chambers, Vice President of Project Development at Clancy & Theys Construction; and Matthew Griffith, Founding Principal of in situ studio and Associate Professor of the Practice in Architecture at NC State, were impressed with the quality of the entries. 

“The competition entries provided the jury with diverse and thoughtful approaches to safe, environmentally conscious, and flexible ways to give Dix Park much-needed additional comfort stations,” said Dean Perry.

Coming in first place was PODdy, designed by Caitlyn Schlaudecker, Anna Traylor, and Will Pate. Their entry featured a mobile, all-inclusive comfort station that blended sleek, modern aesthetics with a commitment to natural integration. Constructed using locally sourced materials, the station could be easily pulled, allowing it to adapt to different needs and locations. Its communal design, and its role as a glowing beacon in the landscape fostered a sense of safety and community among park visitors.

“This Combustion Chamber Competition allowed us to take a familiar, everyday element and push the boundaries of conventional thought,” said team members Caitlyn Schlaudecker, Anna Traylor, and Will Pate. “It's an exciting experience to reexamine routine programs and designs to uncover unique design opportunities. In doing so, this competition revealed the potential to find inspiration from the ordinary, which lead to an innovative and novel solution.”

Two entries also received honorable mentions: Dorothea Rest Haven by Abby Lundergan, Margarito Martinez, and Seiya Furukawa, and CANOPY by Allison Rogers, Kallyn Maddox, and Tyler Mochizuki. 

The following entries also participated in the competition: Comfort Station by Scott Belcher, Satellite Pods by Trevor Healy, and UNFOLD by Kierstin Godfrey, Jaedun Wilson, Yao Xiao, and Clayton Greer.


Shann Rushing, AIA, LEED AP, is a principal at Clark Nexsen with more than 20 years of experience focused on higher education and civic design. His design leadership has been instrumental in creating meaningful education environments, including both Fitts-Woolard Hall and NC State University’s James B. Hunt Jr. Library (in collaboration with Snøhetta). To speak with Shann, please email or call 919.828.1876. 

Katelyn Ottaway, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is a senior architect and associate at Clark Nexsen with over 14 years of experience in higher education and K-12 facilities, libraries, community centers, and research buildings. To speak with Katelyn, please email or call 919.987.1153.