“Art in the Park” is an Iowa West Foundation initiative to replace weathered park identification signs at six community parks. The project is being coordinated by the Council Bluffs Parks, Recreation, and Public Property Department with assistance from the City Public Art Commission. These signs, all created by area artists, were developed with public input and overseen by art curator Joel Damon.
Located in the center of the city, Cochran Park is one of the oldest parks in Council Bluffs. It’s named for Colonel Addison Cochran, a former mayor of Council Bluffs who donated the land.
In its early years, the park was a year-round destination for young people and families using the swimming pool in the summer and an intentionally flooded basketball court as an ice rink in the winter. Today it’s still known as a place to for children and families to gather and relax.
Artist Jeffrey L. Day, AIA, designed with that in mind. The new signage is a series of separate panels that spell out “COCHRAN.” Additionally, the aluminum panels fold out at their bases to become benches for sitting and conversing.
“We were interested in the impact of motion and the position of the viewer as we presume most people will see the sign when driving by,” said Day, a professor in the UNL College of Architecture and Co-Founder of Min | Day Studio who has also designed projects for the Blue Barn Theatre and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. “But we wanted our installation to go beyond simply making a clear identifier to actually creating a place within that park where people can sit and relax.”
Fabricated in Bellevue by Brand Metal Works, the large structure will completely change the space and become a meeting place for the surrounding community.
A baseball diamond, two tennis courts, two basketball courts and a mid-size playground offer plenty of room for children to play. With expansive green space for picnics, newly planted trees, and planned bike paths, Cochran Park’s offerings for families will continue to grow.
“We hope it becomes a place where people congregate and spend time,” Day said.