Happiness Squared - Times Square's perpetual evolution

Monday, March 03, 2014

Signs of the Times - By Louis M. Brill

Novotel Hotel

Nested within the Times Square area at Broadway and 52nd Street, Chartres Lodging Group, LLC., the owner of the luxury Novotel Hotel, decided to upgrade its building signage with a state-of-the-art LED sign that spans almost the entire height of the building. The graphic design was completed by Bright Lines Creative, LLC and Stonehill & Taylor Architects, PC. With the design in hand, the LED sign was manufactured with D3(Rancho Cordova, CA) LED tiles presenting the hotel’s name with the N turned sideways at the bottom and extending upwards to spell out Novotel. Fabrication and installation of the sign was provided by American SignCrafters (Islip, NY).

“The Novotel LED display, approximately 232 ft. tall and 13 ft. wide, was retrofitted into a vertical alcove on the building’s edge,” Frank Barnes, D3’s executive sales director, said. “To ensure the LED display would maintain a high level of visibility within Times Square, we provided full-color, 16mm SMD modules. Within its design format, the letters N-O-V-O-T-E-L are spelled out on the upper third of the display, in a very refined look for both day and night. Beginning at the lower portion of the sign and escalating upwards, integrated modules present a subtle, strobe-lighting effect.”

In addition to illuminating the hotel’s name, Barnes said the LED modules are full-RGB capable and programmable like any other video display. Initially, the hotel will utilize a slow-changing, monochromatic design that provides themed graphic images that can vertically stream up and down the sign.

American SignCrafters partnered with D3 in the sign’s production. Tom Garatina, the company’s business manager, said the new sign comprises 24 steel-framed, aluminum-skinned cabinets. D3 built 10 of the cabinets and had already installed the LED displays. In turn, American Signcrafters built the remaining 14 cabinets.

“American Signcrafters collaborated with D3 to develop how the cabinets would interlock, once completed and installed on the side of the building,” said Garatina. “Jeff Petersen, American Signcrafters’ president, devised the fabrication process.”

Once American Signcrafters received the cabinets from D3, the shop covered them with a 1/8-in.-thick, “Novotel blue” aluminum skin to match the fully fabricated cabinets. Garatina said American Signcrafters also created a series of aluminum cut-outs of the hotel’s letter forms, which were placed over the LED faces to create a clean, even look for the hotel’s name across the cabinets. Because the LED sign cabinets are front-serviced, the letters are removable for easy display access.

American SignCrafters handled all sign-cabinet fabrication, and, in several trips, worked onsite at the Novotel. The LED cabinets were brought in at night (no lane closures were allowed during daytime) and offloaded from their flatbed trailers by a 150-ft.-reach National crane to a hotel terrace directly below the signs’ eventual placement. In the daytime, a rooftop hydraulic hoist lifted the cabinets up onto the hotel’s side wall. From the bottom up, American Signcrafters stacked the cabinets on top of each other flush to the building’s roof line. Installers used previously set, J-clip anchor points to align the sign cabinets and guide them to where they were bolted to the building wall.

From start (setting anchor points on the building) to finish (mounting the LED cabinets), the overall sign installation required approximately 12 days; electrical work took another three weeks. Once completed, the Novotel Hotel sign easily fit into the surrounding Times Square skyline.

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