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Western Canada’s highest sign

By Troy Hibbs

The tower signs installed on the façade of the recently built Civic Hotel in Surrey, B.C., hover more than 160 m (525 ft) from the ground, and are anchored securely into the concrete walls, which are more than 609 mm (24 in.) thick. The signs act as a beacon over the central hub of the city, drawing attention with its glowing 4.1-m (13.5-ft) tall diamond shape.

Claiming the highest sign in Western Canada does not happen without a myriad of technicalities, challenges, and creative decisions. TDH Experiential Fabricators started reviewing the project in October of 2016 with the initial focus being on the two tower signs and a secondary phase of the lower level hotel, wayfinding, and tenant signs. The tower signs were installed mid-October of 2017 with the rest of the hotel, wayfinding, and tenant signs being completed in February 2018.

The discovery phase

To balance the client’s needs with city bylaw restrictions, TDH’s first step was a discovery phase in which its team studied the Civic Hotel assets, including logos, fonts, and brand guidelines, as well as their customer focus, the purpose and impact of the sign, and various other facets that affected the final design choices. Once this information was gathered, TDH was able to put together a proposal detailing its suggestions for size, placement, and layout on the tower. In the proposal, a Distance Legibility Assessment was provided, which details the various distances the sign would be most effectively seen and read.

Further, visuals and details were included of similar high-rise sign installation projects to help give confidence to the client by using real-world examples.

Fabricating two towering signs

The sign was constructed of 3.175-mm (0.125-in.) aluminum backs with welded 203-mm (8-in.) deep aluminum returns and various 51-mm (2-in.) angle frames welded inside for internal support. Everything was reviewed and signed off by TDH’s local engineer to ensure the design being proposed was extra strong.

An all-aluminum construction was specified to help keep the weight down, as well as minimize any risk of rust in the future. The 4.76-mm (0.1875-in.) white polycarbonate faces were secured to the sign using EX-7 frame extrusions. This not only allowed the plastic to expand, but it was also a design consideration as the 38-mm (1.5-in.) wide frame painted dark grey helped define the letters, enhancing the ability for the sign to be easily read from a far distance. Even though the sign is 160 m (525 ft) from the ground, birds were still a concern and had to be addressed in the design and installation, as the sign will not be cleaned regularly, if ever. Therefore, stainless steel landing deterrents were installed in any openings or potential spots where birds could rest.

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