4 February 2021
There is something to be said about the history in the lower mainland surrounding Vancouver. Canada is a young country, so maintaining a consistent sense of history unifies its people. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park showcases British Columbia’s rugged beauty and communicates that shared history in a breathtaking natural setting.
The park is a rare attraction that provides adventure enthusiasts a view like no other in the city. Its employees have a sense of pride for its history, and they consider it their responsibility to continue that legacy.
When TDH Experiential Fabricators, an architectural signage, display, and industrial art fabrication company based in Surrey, B.C., was approached with the opportunity to refurbish a unique and antiquated sign at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, the company jumped at the chance to add to the country’s heritage.
In designing this project, the team gathered inspiration from the park’s scenic views, as well as materials located around the area, such as bronze, steel, and wood, to create a captivating and contemporary signage system that complemented the look and feel of the environment. This approach allowed the shop to pay tribute to the built attractions within the park and its awe-inspiring landscape.
The goal was to take an old weathered sign and refurbish it using modern-day techniques, all while making sure to preserve its rustic look and historic feel.
By applying various creative techniques, the team blended different textures and materials to function in harmony with each other and the surrounding terrain. The first step in the process was to carefully remove the dilapidated old sign from the fascia so the letters could be repurposed in the new design. The letters were made from old tools and pieces of metal to create the wording ‘Loggers Grill.’ For example, an old hatchet was used to make the ‘L,’ and an old hammer handle was used to create the ‘E.’ These tools perfectly captured the nod to history the team wanted.
The challenge, however, was to make the letters stand out, rather than sit flat against a backer panel. To solve this, the team mounted these pieces onto the faces of 254- x 127-mm (10- x 5-in.) thick aluminum channel letters, which created a much stronger three-dimensional look. In doing so, the sign became more eye-catching while continuing to remain true to its original theme. The letters were also made to look worn and mildly rusted to retain the sign’s vintage feel.
Next, corrugated steel panels were cut into shape to resemble three mountain peaks. The cut panels were then flush mounted to the existing wood trusses above the Loggers Grill sign with hidden fasteners.
The overall width of the finished steel panels was 5842 mm (230 in.). The centre mountain’s peak reached a height of approximately 1575 mm (62 in.), while the mountains on either side were 1092 mm (43 in.) tall. The steel panel was weathered to give it a mildly rusted appearance—as if it had been exposed to the elements—so it blended in with its natural surroundings.
To create a rustic look, the team used 25.4- x 152.4-mm (1- x 6-in.) vertical cedar wood slats and stained them in varying colours—such as Cordovan Brown and Natural Sequoia—to give each piece a somewhat unmatched look. They were then cut into five smaller rigid peaks and stood off the steel panels with 38.1-mm (1.5-in.) spacers. This added even more depth to the sign.
The peaks were 1168 mm (46 in.) tall so the steel and wood did not overshadow each other. The wood peaks did not run parallel to the corrugated steel mountains. Instead, they were cut in a way so their troughs were centred with the steel panel’s peaks, creating the look of three mountains with the body of the mountain being slatted wood and the snowy peak of the mountain being corrugated metal. Lastly, 4.8-mm (0.18-in.) black steel edging was used around the border to cover the wooden ends.
The reclaimed antique wood saw from the previous sign was used to give the finishing touch to the new sign. This was another chance for the sign shop to pay homage to the former sign and, to do so, the team adhered it horizontally under the aluminum channel letters, which created an underlining effect.
The external illumination for the sign was the final connection to bygone eras. Black gooseneck lighting was flush mounted to the wood tresses, which created a warm wash of light falling in varying gradients over the rustic sign elements. These lights were stationed 1524 mm (60 in.) apart at the peak of each mountain to properly illuminate the sign.
The client mentioned to the team the park’s patrons, after seeing the new sign, asked if the entire structure had been replaced. This confirmed the team’s hard work had paid off and they had successfully managed to change the overall look of Loggers Grill while retaining its essence.
The combination of various elements allowed the shop to produce a sign that is one part history, and one part an example of what artistic fabricators can accomplish with modern techniques and skill. The goal when pursuing the project was to refurbish and add new life to a restaurant that is considered a landmark in Vancouver, and the TDH team is proud to have been able to add to its history.
Tristan Allan is the owner of TDH Experiential Fabricators, an architectural signage, display, and industrial art fabrication company based in Surrey, B.C. Allan leads a talented team of designers and fabricators to create stunning signs, displays, and industrial art. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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