Custom Signs Help Build A New Town Center

Teaming up with OPN Architects and Confluence Landscape Architecture to create a digital monument sign, wayfinding signage, interior ADA signage, and a history wall for a new indoor-outdoor community space in Johnston, Iowa.

Latitude was very helpful in letting us understand how the site would flow, and how we can aid that in terms of signage. I also appreciated Latitude’s effort to show their process, much of which is custom built.

Thomas Thatcher, WELL AP, OPN Architects

A Quick History Lesson

Just outside of Des Moines, Iowa, a settlement that would later become the city of Johnston was established in the mid-1800s. The area grew in the early 1900s with the development of a railroad station and Camp Dodge, a military training site. Later Henry A. Wallace founded the Pioneer Hi-bred Corn Company (now known as Corteva) in the area, boosting employment and housing.

Despite all of its growth, the city of Johnston never established a traditional town square and wasn’t officially incorporated until 1969. In honor of the town’s 50th anniversary, the city began to construct the Johnston Town Center.

The new town center is a combination of government offices, such as City Hall, space for future retail shops and restaurants, as well as outdoor spaces for the community to gather.

Exterior & Future Tenant Wayfinding Signage

To direct residents and visitors to the new splash pad, park area, and office spaces, Latitude Latimer Group created a digital monument sign and wayfinding signage. We worked closely with OPN, the architect, and Confluence | Landscape Architecture, to create signage for both the outdoor gathering spaces and inside the Johnston Town Center.

“The team wanted the signage to seamlessly match the limestone and metal details used on the building,” says Tony Squire, Central Iowa Sign Expert. “It was essential to create a cohesive design between the indoor and outdoor elements of the Town Center.”

A large monument sign with a two-sided digital message board greets guests turning into the complex.

It was important to the city of Johnston that the monument sign make a notable first impression to those entering the site. The use of high-quality materials and a relatively large scale would convey the quality of the overall development

Denise Hurt, Project Manager, Confluence Landscape Architecture

As you drive into the area, a long, low wayfinding sign directs pedestrian and vehicle traffic. This illuminated aluminum sign has panels that can easily be updated with business names as the Town Center continues to grow with retail businesses being added in future construction phases. “Latitude was very helpful in letting us understand how the site would flow, and how we can aid wayfinding in terms of signage,” says Thomas Thatcher of OPN Architects.

Custom Exterior Dimensional Letter Signage

Innovative signage solutions continued with custom exterior signage installed on the building. The city of Johnston’s logo is a thin script font that required custom fabrication to create a dimensional logo sign for the building. “As soon as you see it, you notice how narrow the stroke width is on the letters. Our production team was able to craft these beautifully delicate-looking letters that are durable enough to stand up to Iowa’s dramatic weather,” says Squire.

Interior Signage & History Wall Signage

Inside City Hall, you’ll see another thin-lettered Johnston logo sign. It is installed on a handsome wood wall crafted from the trees cut down to make space for the Johnston Town Center.

This signature wood wall also features a history wall sign and acrylic logo. It has digitally printed images and copy that walks visitors through the timeline of Johnston’s history. In the lobby, visitors will also see a detailed map of the City of Johnston digitally printed on wood panels. “Digitally printing on wood can be a challenge because wood can absorb the ink if not done properly and you only get one shot at the print. The grain and color of the wood also affect the design/colors used," says Squire. “The end result here is a high-impact wall that is such a unique feature for this community center.”

Latitude also provided a full suite of interior signage including distraction dots on glass walls and doors, ADA signage, wayfinding signage, and room identifiers that blend seamlessly with the wall color.

Digitally printing on wood can be a challenge because wood can absorb the ink if not done properly and you only get one shot at the print. The grain and color of the wood also affect the design/colors used.

Tony Squire, Central Iowa Sign Expert

Project Partners

With a complex project that includes so many interior and outdoor public spaces, it was essential that Latitude work well with all the designers and architects on the construction team. “Latitude provided continued guidance throughout the design and construction of the signs. We had tested a few ideas, and with their help, we landed on the most strategic and successful option for the final design. Their understanding of the needs of the sign itself helped both the design team and the city find the best design for their use. It was a truly hands-on approach to solving a problem,” says Thatcher of OPN Architects.

If you’re looking for a signage partner that can easily "fit" with your construction team, reach out to Tony or any of our signage experts.


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