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A Slice of Americana (Part Two)

Creo Industrial Arts imparts vintage style for a California hotel.



A strong foundation

After having settled on the lighting effect, Creo’s documentation staff compiled an 11-page set of shop drawings that depicted the overall layout and sections of each letter type’s letter-connections points on the steel structure. We based these documents on an engineer’s drawing of the steel support structure.

In addition to submitting sample colors for client approval, Creo’s project manager, Todd Fuhs, provided frequent progress photos to ensure the production timeline matched the client’s expectations. All shapes, such as letter backs, rims and faces, had been drawn at full size in AutoCAD® to develop the shop drawings. Therefore, once the drawings were approved, we immediately rendered the shapes and set up the production files to have all parts waterjet-cut. An insert pattern for the 2,000-plus, medium-base, incandescent sockets were also built into the cutting file.

Production and installation


To create an accurate, full-size pattern to place all letter-connection points on the structure, we used the same production files to plot a single pattern of the 35-ft.-long layout, which Rainier Industries (Tukwila, WA) printed on 10-oz. banner material with an EFI-VUTEk (Foster City, CA) 3360 solvent-ink printer.

The same pattern connected the letters to raceway segments, temporary rails and freestanding wooden fixtures used for client review, demonstration purposes and shipping the letters to the jobsite. We constructed the letterforms from heavy-gauge, .090-in.-thick aluminum. Fabricators hand- or bump-formed the 6- and 8-in.-deep letters as needed.

Although we fabricated the letters routinely, they also required locating multiple power supplies, gluing them to heavy-gauge aluminum, masking them for paint and, finally, wiring them according to the scintillation pattern.

We installed 24 France (Fairview, TN) electronic transformers to drive nearly 400 linear ft. of 13mm, neon tubing. Creo prefers electronic transformers over traditional core-and-coil models because of their smaller profile and reduced power consumption. The “neo-blue,” exposed-neon outline neon on the “Americana” letters remains on at all times. We decorated the signs with Matthews’ (Pleasant Prairie, WI) Nuance paint system, which we use almost exclusively.


A unique focal point, the clock’s white face, comprises acrylic and fluorescent backlighting. Americlock (St. Louis) supplied the clock’s face, hands and inner workings.

As soon as the steel structure on the rooftop was completed, Creo’s Southern California field superintendent, Steven Schroeder, and the installation contractor, Sign Industries (Ontario, CA), verified all critical dimensions and determined necessary circuitry connections. We slotted all brackets that connect the letters to the rooftop structure to allow for some expansion and contraction, and the Sign Industries crew used Dyna-Lift (Grand Rapids, MI) equipment to lift the clock and six sets of letterforms.

The installation presented no surprises, and the entire operation, from setup to tear down, was completed in 20 hours – we erected the sign on the first day and wired it the second. The final result was an eye-popping rooftop marquee that earned raves from Caruso and, in keeping with its wishes, will stand as a distinctive landmark for years to come.

More about CREO Industrial Arts


Based in Everett, WA, near the shores of Puget Sound, Creo Industrial Arts provides such custom-built-environment fabrication as signage, illuminated fixtures, exterior furniture and kiosks, as well as 3-D metalwork, spandrels and public art. Creo partners with environmental-graphics professionals to provide documentation, project management, fabrication and installation services.

Creo Industrial Arts recently underwent a re-branding, having changed its name from SignTech LLC after nearly 25 years in business. According to the company, the name change reflects the quality and character of the company’s work and differentiates the firm from other companies with similar names. According to Patrick Angelel, one of the company’s principals, the company has been involved with some very unique and sophisticated environmental-graphics projects for such upscale retail centers as Santana Row, Victoria Gardens and the Natick Collection, as well as five-star hotels, among them The Arrabelle at Vail Square, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and Suncadia Resort in Washington State.

Bert Gothard is Creo Industrial Arts' project-management director.



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