NANCY O'NEIL         

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The Miami-Dade County History of Public Health
Miami-Dade County Dept. of Health, Miami, FL


Please click to see additional images of project


Exterior of site
The Miami-Dade County Dept. of Health, Miami, FL
Florida Art in State Buildings Project.
2011

The Miami-Dade County Dept. of Health is the local branch of a state agency, the Florida Dept. of Health. It represents the largest population of the 67 county health departments in the state. The mission of the MDCHD is to protect and promote the health of all residents and visitors in Miami-Dade County.

This beautiful and light-filled new office building was designed by Roberto A. Smith of MGE Architects.

My twenty suspended panels tell the story of public health in south Florida. I did a lot of research for this design; it is filled with information. The images come from more than 15 different sources, ranging from private collections to the Library of Congress. For certain aspects of the design I consulted with Christine Ardalan, author of several books on the history of nursing in south Florida.

The story of public health in Miami-Dade County is full of human drama -- life and death struggles, catastrophic storms, waves of immigration, and outbreaks of life-threatening diseases. It is also the story of human beings who dedicate their lives to helping people in need.

Some of the material in my design is graphic and powerful, some is moving and poignant, and some is humorous. All of it works together, weaving in milestones and transformational events, informed by compassion, caring and service.

My panels are installed close to, but not touching the window wall, which uses a special hurricane-rated glass. Since we could not install within the mullions we used a rod and cable suspension system to display the artwork. The panels look like jewels floating in the space.

This project involved a lot of collaboration with the people at the site, and that has helped to make it successful.

Project photos by Robin Hill