If you didn’t know it was there, you may have driven by the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm without much notice. This rustic old farm on the edge of Iowa City was established in 1855 as a place to care for the poor and mentally ill. Today is serves as a window to the past and is available for tours.
Until recently, there was no sign to identify the historic site. ASI Latimer Group worked with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Confluence Landscape Architecture to create a thoroughly modern sign that pays homage to the farm’s history.
CREATE HISTORICAL LOOK
“Johnson County was interested in corten steel because of its rusted metal appearance,” says Bryce Carlson, ASI Sales Consultant. “They also had conceptual designs provided by Confluence Landscape Architecture, but gave us freedom to come up with innovative ideas for production.”
ASI brought in samples of a faux corten material that offered the same look as corten steel, but was much more budget-friendly. An aluminum panel is primed and then coated with a solution that contains iron flakes. Next, a rust activator is sprayed over the top. This causes a reaction that speeds up the oxidation process. When the desired amount of rust has been achieved, a clear coat is sprayed to stop the rusting process. The piece will stop any additional rusting, so no runs or drips on its surroundings once the sign is installed.
The Board of Supervisors were impressed by the consistent look—and affordable price—of the aluminum alternative. Because of the cost-savings they found using the faux corten steel, the Board of Supervisors were able to add illumination to the sign, which was not part of the original design.
USE MODERN TECHNOLOGY
Sustainability is a high-priority for Johnson County, and the Board was intrigued by the possibility of adding solar illumination to the sign. ASI designers and production experts worked together to create a stunning sign with LED backlit letters that is entirely solar powered. The limestone base houses the battery that stores the energy from an adjacent solar panel. This self-contained system will power the sign completely off grid.
Coordinating the build took a collaborative approach from ASI to ensure the foundation had space for the solar equipment, access for maintenance, and conduits to run power throughout the sign. “ASI’s hard work made this sign a reality. The Supervisors are over the moon about it, and I appreciate all of the communication and on-the-fly maneuvering that made it possible,” says Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz from Johnson County.
“This project is a great example of how we can use innovative materials and technology to go beyond our clients’ expectations to create something that looks great and matches their desired style while giving them more functionality,” Carlson says.
Learn more or visit the site at https://johnsoncountyhistory.org/poor-farm/