Connect with us

Business Management

School, Library Signage Underscore Environmental-Graphic Importance in Learning Facilities

Different solutions, same goal



Whatever misgivings one might have about former Senator and First Lady (and, if she has her way, future President) Hillary Clinton, she was on target when she said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That philosophy especially extends to education. Well-funded and organized schools, as well as well-educated and dedicated teachers, play an important role in children’s educations, but instruction can, and should, transcend the traditional classroom environment.

Field trips, extracurricular activities and visits to libraries and other, valuable public resources provide a well-rounded education and development for young people. And, of course, signage plays an essential role, whether it be commemorating the achievements of athletes from generations past, or pointing the way to a library’s technological amenities.

Check out these nontraditional, educational environmental graphics, and how they help cultivate a lifelong love of learning.

Staging a Rebellion
Founded in 1959 in Norridge, IL, a western suburb of Chicago, Ridgewood High School has approximately 800 students (according to Wikipedia), and its athletic teams are named the Rebels. The school, recognized in 1968 by Ladies’ Home Journal as a U.S. Top 10 High School, offers extracurricular activities many high schools could only dream of: radio and TV stations, Mathletes and Art Club, among many others.

The school extensively renovated its athletic facilities, and its officials also updated its athletic “wall of fame”. Ridgewood hired DLA Architects (Itasca, IL), a 31-year-old firm with extensive experience in educational design and environmental graphics, to design the program. The firm, which has had a 10-year-long relationship with the school as its architect of record, developed a $70-million, multi-phase master plan for campus improvements.

The school’s prior recognition involved placing the black-and-white photos behind a Plexiglas® acrylic shield and gluing it to the wall. Obviously, a half-century of wear can, even indoors, make photos appear weather-beaten. DLA scanned the original photos, and digitally restored them using Adobe Illustrator.


“The wall of fame is located at the athletic-facility entrance near the new gym addition,” Carrie Matlock, DLA’s marketing director who managed the project, said. “The overall goal of the wall of fame was to depict individual and team achievements. Locating and restoring more than 1,500 archived photos, and correctly identifying the students on them, required extensive collaboration between DLA and the school district. With all of the campus’ ongoing improvements, the project seemed a natural element that should be updated and organized to meet the building’s new aesthetics. The creation of a timeline, with each section featuring a 10-year period, dictated the scope and composition.”

Naturally, school colors created the color palette. Aachen BT, the school’s typeface of choice, was used for subheads, and Arial Rounded MT Bold, which the firm deemed complementary, was used for headlines.
The firm contacted iZone Imaging (Temple, TX) to print the new program using its proprietary, custom-high-pressure laminate (CHPL) system. She said the school’s main requirements were durability, legibility and price, and Matlock said CHPL’s colorfast characteristics made it ideal.

CHPL integrates the image onto paper imprinted with a proprietary mix of UV-stable inks. Subsequently, they’re impregnated with phenolic-resin and a clear, protective coating that’s melded to the surface through high pressure and heat. The pressure-and-heat treatment enables the substrate to withstand long-term exposure to UV, corrosion, chemicals and other contaminants.

The display, which measures 6.5 x 20 ft. long, was divided into six panels. The installing shop, Happ Builders, developed a wall-cleat mounting system that will allow modular insertion and removal as the wall of fame expands.

Make Your Mark
Librarians still endure the outdated stereotype of matronly, stern old ladies who simply patrol the stacks and loudly hiss “Shhhh!” at patrons. However, in current times, when library budgets are constantly called into question because some technophiles believe widespread possession of smartphones equals a well-informed populace, making libraries less important, employees must market these fine institutions in innovative ways.

The Overland Park, KS branch of the Johnson Co. Library wanted to proudly tout its MakerSpace A/V program, which allows guests access to the library’s software library and in-house computers and hardware to create videos, animation and myriad types of computer-enhanced artwork and content. According to the library, the system allows users to create anything from newsletters and websites to chess sets.


However, patrons need a prominent sign to direct them to MakerSpace’s Jetson-esque amenities. So, library officials hired Overland Park’s Signs By Tomorrow center to fabricate a fun, eye-grabbing, wall-mounted sign. The center’s 28,000-sq.-ft. facility includes a retail store, and maintains a 10-employee staff. Cece Corona, its owner, said she’s enjoyed a long-term relationship with the library’s administration.

The library system’s creative and marketing departments developed the logo, and submitted it to the shop as a .PDF. The shop’s design team used Adobe Photoshop to prep the files for production. Signs by Tomorrow hired a subcontracting fabricator, Digital Lagoon (Lenexa, KS), to cut all the gears and letters to shape with aluminum composite material on a Zund 3000 digital cutter.

Initially, Signs by Tomorrow attempted painting a patina finish, but determined creating effects on vinyl would be more cost-effective. The shop decorated the materials with 3M Series 1080 matte-finish, anthracite-pattern film, with jagged-edge effects created in Photoshop.

Signs By Tomorrow built its own standoff bolts and screws from 3/16-in.-thick steel. They drilled the hardware into place with screw anchors, and installed blue and purple LED modules to provide a dramatic backlighting accent. Also, they installed a silent motor under several of the gears in order to provide motion. Installers super-glued the motors to the underside of the sign’s center.

“The biggest challenges were making sure the gears in motion stayed silent, and accurately setting up the LED lighting,” Corona said. “After all, libraries are quiet, peaceful environments. And, we had to be resourceful in order to stay within the project’s $3,000 budget.”





Most Popular