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Design Development

Large Interior Sign

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Developing a Large Interior Sign Suitably Finished for Close Proximity

It arrived in parts. It appeared as one. It hid eighty square feet of damage.

The architect’s intent sketch conveyed a 20-foot sign as the centerpiece of the executive floor. Curtailing costly millwork was part of the plan. The optimal compromise resulted in a sign that would barely conceal existing damage — making for one uncompromising installation.

Here is the deceptively simple sign in satin aluminum and painted aluminum.

Finished dimensions are 5 feet x 20 feet. The large logo letter A alone was 30 inches tall. Bottom of sign to finished floor is 9 feet.

Rewind 7 weeks back.

After meeting with the project architect, we visited the job site and saw the extent of damage left by the prior tenant’s neon sign.

Part of the architect’s intentions was to help save on millwork expense by covering the extensive and irregular scatter of holes, numbering approximately 70. These were not screw holes. They were 3/4 inch diameter holes bored entirely through the millwork.

Next meeting, we went over the architect’s finished appearance attributes and prerequisites.

1) Aluminum letters; 2) float background away from wall; 3) limit of 2 seams in specific spots; 4) custom color background; 5) Concealed fastenings; and 6) Concealing the extensive millwork damage.

An early sketch shows the seam locations. Yet to be done was figuring out how it would hold together.

We concluded that the sign parts needed to be assembled onto the wall, rather than on the floor. Our approach was not one that could be hoisted. Next, we checked suppliers for available material.

Our shop drawing included the use of aluminum sheet in 5x10 foot size. It was the answer to achieving the 2 seam limit. The 5 foot material height made it just beyond the damage zone, mapped out in blue. A close call.

Meanwhile, back at the job site, the contractor installed the temporary banner we supplied. The dimensions matched that of the finished sign being fabricated.

Hairline seams were achieved by counteracting imperfect mill edges by machining them.

Adding apparent thickness and stiffening the aluminum was accomplished with unequal leg architectural aluminum angle.

The resulting background was disassembled into 3 key components and prepared for painting.

The first component to go up was in the middle and it was central to our plan.

This initial layer is what will stand our finished plaque away from the millwork surface.

Flanking components went up next.

You can see holes peeking out just beyond the wood. Those will soon be concealed.

The middle sign face component was attached.

Initially, adhesive held it until we ran screws right through the face. We’ll deal with those exposed screws in a short while. Remaining centered, level, and true was the mantra.

Protecting the 3 sign face components were some 110 square feet of heavy masking.

Typically, a sign of this size gets hoisted outdoors and at sufficient height that they conveniently allow hardware and blemishes to go unnoticed. Ours was a sign destined to remain just beyond visitor’s reach. Scratches and other blemishes were taboo.

We took advantage of the hollow lettering cavities to cover our strategically placed screw heads.

All prerequisites were met, including the broad coverage needed to save on millwork expense.

Lettering returns are highlighted from this vantage point. Lots of bright light streamed in from the skylight.

Our feasible interpretation met the architect's objectives.

We ensured all bases were covered — including the irregular scatter of holes! Nobody seeing the result would imagine what the requirements and stakes were, nor the time that was spent pulling it off. The sign was simply impressive to see in person and it received a lot of compliments.