EDUCATION PROJECTS

Cowley College

Arkansas City, Kansas

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 Services Provided
    Design & Planning
    Map Development
    Consultation
    Fabrication
    Installation

 Products
    SignBar/SignPanel
    PolySign
    LED
    Applied Graphics
    Custom Exterior
    Elevate (Interior Only)

 Background Information
     Cowley College is recognized as a premier community college and vocational technical college in Arkansas City, Kansas with a total enrollment of over 4,500 students. 

     Cowley offers more than 80 different certificates and degrees and has multiple campus locations, with its main campus being a vital component of the Arkansas City community.  Cowley College also offers residential living as well as nationally acclaimed athletic programs and state-of-the-art training facilities. 

     As part of a Master Plan to keep Cowley College on pace with continuing the exterior improvements on its campuses, in 2017 the college issued a Request-for-Proposal for a quality signage contractor to design, fabricate, and install exterior signs.   As APCO had recently completed a successful sign project for another community college in Kansas, we were referred to Cowley and included within the RFP. 

     With proven experience designing, fabricating, and implementing sign and wayfinding solutions for colleges around the US, and with a proposal that matched up well with Cowley’s vision, APCO was selected for the project.


 The Solution
     The APCO Design and Planning team got to work right away, visiting the Cowley campuses and meeting with the committee that would be managing the project for the college.  This committee, including representatives from Marketing, Facilities, Finance, and the Office of the President, was extremely helpful throughout the entire project and critical for the project’s overall success.  The committee liked the design concepts APCO presented and wanted to make branding and use of the school colors and logo a key part of the overall program.


School Colors/Branding
     As part of a collaborative design approach, the school’s colors were incorporated, in a slightly different way, into all four categories of exterior signs: 

            Vehicular Directional Signs
            Pedestrian Directional Signs
            Free Standing Building Identification
            Wall-Mount Building Identification

This approached proved to be very effective, creating a subtle distinction amongst the various sign types while maintaining a cohesive, branded sign family for the college.


Gateway Signs
     Cowley’s main campus is in an urban environment, so vehicular wayfinding was especially important.  It was not so obvious to know when one had arrived on campus, so APCO created “gateway” signs to help define the campus perimeter so visitors would know they are at Cowley College.  A key component of this plan was a large base-mount ID with an LED message board to promote campus events and welcome visitors. 


Map Development
     APCO also worked with the college to create new maps with more detaied information about the campus.  The improved map designs included a newly created parking lot naming structure, sidewalks, and services provided within buildings on campus.  This proved to be a key element of the overall pedestrian wayfinding solution.


Athletics
     Athletics are a very important part of Cowley College, but the sports venues were difficult to find.  As such, APCO’s team integrated them into the wayfinding program and helped highlight them as primary locations at the college. 


The Products:  Customized, Updatable and Durable
     Another priority for the college was to have a signage program that could be easily updated and maintained over time, so APCO's large range of modular solutions presented a very good fit. 

     To offer more unique looking solutions, APCO’s design and engineering teams customized the SignBar/SignPanel aluminum exterior system to feature stand-off, CNC-cut aluminum panels.  Although maintaining the benefits of updatability, the customized shapes, stand-off panels, and heavy use of school colors and logos helped make the entire program unique to Cowley College. 

     The robust aluminum and fiberglass components used throughout the program within the SignBar/SignPanel and PolySign systems also provided long-lasting, durable solutions to withstand the elements in what can be a harsh, Kansas environment.


 Conclusion
     After several phases and a lot of successful collaboration with the signage committee and other personnel at Cowley College, APCO completed installation of the exterior signage and wayfinding project in April 2018.   We are very thankful to Cowley College for trusting APCO as their signage partner, and we are proud to have been a part of their campus improvement objectives.