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Cownie Sports Park Signage


Located a few miles out of town, the James W. Cownie Sports Complex draws people from all over central Iowa and beyond. With 12 soccer fields, eight irrigated turf baseball diamonds, and several parking lots spread out across several acres, it wasn’t unusual for people to get lost as they navigated their way to (and through) the athletic park. The park also lacked a way to visually link its soccer and baseball complexes.
When the family of James Cownie, a local businessman who was also a youth sports coach, made a donation to the complex, the City of Des Moines’ Parks and Recreation Department wanted to use the funds to establish an identity and wayfinding for the sports complex.


Beginning with banners and signage for drive out to the James W. Cownie Sports Complex on Hartford Avenue, Shive-Hattery designed an environmental graphic design solution to assure drivers that they’re headed in the right direction – even though they’re entering a floodplain and may feel like they’re leaving town.
To assist vehicles with finding the correct field and parking location once they reach the park, a series of signage and wayfinding graphics were developed to guide them to the baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Inside, each soccer and baseball field is visibly numbered. Directional signage along the way shows drivers and pedestrians where they are located within the park, identifying the parking lots throughout.
As a way to welcome visitors, landmark metal sculptures were placed at entrances to the complex. Custom designed and fabricated in steel, the soccer entrance features a metal soccer ball that spans 10 feet in diameter, sitting on a pedestal that is nearly 25 feet tall. This height helps the soccer entrance be seen from a distance.
A similar sculpture was designed and created for the baseball entrance. Five 18-foot-long metal baseball bats lean up against a long, rectangular wall, defining the baseball entry.
Shive-Hattery created the signage graphics theme, developed a logo used on all wayfinding, and completed all signage design. The design team also identified appropriate placement for signage components.


A new logo and signage solutions establish the James W. Cownie Sports Complex as a Des Moines area landmark. Hosting several high-profile events each year, the environmental graphic design services provided by Shive-Hattery eliminate confusion for James W. Cownie Sports Complex visitors. Before they reach the athletic park entrance, guests know where to park and how to find their destination.
Due to its innovation and complexity, the project received an Engineering Achievement Award in the Buildings & Systems category, presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Iowa.
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