Getting an illuminated sign installed on your building is not as easy as it seems. We are used to seeing channel letters on every storefront so the sign may look simple at first glance, but there is a lot that goes into building signage. We were making a front-lit channel letter sign for Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, and at the beginning of the project, we learned that we were not allowed to drill holes into the metal wall cladding. Since building signs are typically installed directly onto the exterior wall, we had to think of another solution. We took advantage of the parapet roof and built an aluminum frame that could hold the sign that could also be suspended from the roof. As you can see from the photos, the channel letters were mounted onto the frame first at the shop, and we install the entire thing on-site using a crane.
The channel letters were also made using mostly aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight, yet durable so it is a great substrate for signage. First, the backs of the channel letters are routed out from .063 aluminum based on the logo design. Then, the returns are formed using 5″ deep .040 aluminum coil. The previously routed backs are used as a reference and they are welded together. The faces of a front-lit channel letter sign are translucent and LEDs are installed inside of the channel letters so the light shines through the faces. By using different translucent vinyl colors that matched the logo, we were able to make sure that the logo and lettering light up in the proper logo colors at nighttime. The faces are routed from 3/16″ thick white sign acrylic, and the vinyl is laid on the acrylic. The faces are then attached to the metal cans using trimcap. The faces are made to be removable so the LEDs can be serviced, and the faces can also be replaced in the future if needed.