University of Houston exterior identification opening

Arena Background

The Fertitta Center, formerly known as Hofheinz Pavilion, is a 7,100 seat multi-purpose arena on the University of Houston campus. Located at 3875 Holman Street, it is home to the Houston Cougars men’s and women’s basketball teams and the women’s volleyball team.

Fertitta Center Signage Typography Symbols

Typography, Iconography, Color & Finish

At a foundational level for the signage package, we established typography, color, and finishes to align with the design intent of the interior designers and architects, as well as created custom iconography to be used throughout the program. One intentional decision was to utilize the typeface Axia by type designer and University of Houston professor Sibylle Hagmann. Axia is as a concise uni-width sans serif font family whose design compliments the architectural condition.

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University of Houston exterior identification concept

Exterior Identification

The exterior building identification was challenging due to the high profile nature of the project and inherent visibility issues. Prominent signage was designed and positioned to make the most impact, while still maintaining the appearance of being integrated with the building. A structural system was designed that could distribute the weight of the letterforms without interrupting the clean lines of the glass curtain wall.

Fertitta Center Signage Rendering 1
University of Houston overhead directional sign concept

Interior Wayfinding

One of the primary building renovations was an open ceiling concept. We leveraged the additional ceiling height by suspending the overhead directional signs over the main concourse without the use of any other additional supporting elements attached to the walls. This kept the sight lines free and clear of any additional element that might confuse visitors or clutter the aesthetic.

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University of Houston student entry sign concept 1


In addition to core and shell code compliant signage, we created concepts for mural art, experiential and interactive exhibits, enhanced graphics for club level and suite level areas, and gave special considerations for donor recognition throughout the arena.

University of Houston various sign concepts
University of Houston pedestrian directional concept
University Of Houston Cougar Paw Icon

Cougar Paw Symbol

As a final touch, we created our own version of the cougar paw symbol—an icon the University hadn’t established or distributed officially through its network. The origins of this gesture date back to 1953 where tradition tells Cougar faithful to extend the right hand to demonstrate unity amongst the University of Houston community.

Download the cougar paw icon


  • Interior & Exterior Wayfinding Standards
  • Exterior Identification
  • Programming
  • Environmental Graphic Design
  • Pedestrian Wayfinding
  • Phased Implementation
  • Thematic Development
  • Iconography & Illustration


  • Formation, Signage Consultant
  • AECOM, Infrastructure
  • PGAL, Architect
  • Turner, General Contractor
  • Robb Williamson, Photographer


This project was completed while employed as Design Director at Formation (signage and graphics consultant) in Houston, Texas and in association with AECOM (infrastructures consultant) and PGAL (architectural consultant). Images represented in this journal entry are for illustration purposes only and used to communicate the wayfinding strategy and design intent. Some details have been intentionally omitted or obscured.


Environmental Design