City Place House
Architectural signage is a key way to inject life into an empty area and project the right ambience for its residents. One project which demonstrates the vital role of architectural signage is City Place House, winner of the Interior Sign of the Year award 2006.
"We were asked to create an inspirational and contemporary entrance by Prupim, Prudential Insurance's property management arm" explains Mike Montuschi Managing Director of the London based architectural practice Haddon Few Montuschi. "Even though the entrance hall and atrium were rich in marble walls and granite floors, it felt very cold and uninviting. To keep in sympathy with the original Chicago style architecture, we developed the idea of using light and glass for the area through signage and colourful Perspex cubes."
Haddon Few Montuschi contacted leading architectural sign designers, Signbox to interpret the initial designs and engineer some stylish signage for the entrance and atrium area. Mark Bartlett, Managing Director of Sign Box explains;
"We embraced Mike's designs immediately and suggested a combination of traditional materials and modern engineering to achieve an aesthetic result which would be in keeping with the existing surroundings."
As part of its refurbishment, the reception area was to be transformed with a new 1930s art deco style reception desk with an illuminted purple front and a tenant directory centred behind the desk. To keep in line with the style of the reception desk, Signbox used a glass tenants directory mounted on an illuminated textured glass panel 3 metres high and 1.3 metres wide. In addition, similar sized panels illuminated by concealed up lighters were also created to accentuate the three marble recesses in the reception area and frame two plasma display screens. To support the glass panels, Signbox designed and manufactured bespoke brushed stainless steel fixings.
The atrium area although already saturated in ambient light from its glass panelled ceiling, was completely redundant. Therefore, Haddon Few Montuschi was tasked with making this area into a pleasing, comfortable area for staff to take a break and 'chill out.'
"Water and colour never fail in creating an engaging atmosphere which is calming and tranquil," acknowledges Mike. "Therefore, our design featured large clear Perspex cubes containing jets of water illuminated by changing colours. These cubes would be visible from the open landings of the ten story building to entice staff down to the raised stage area of the atrium."
To complement the colourful cubes, Signbox designed and manufactured a full width structural mast system over 8 metres wide to provide a backdrop, however there were a few technical requirements which had to be addressed. As this area was to be used by the staff, the backdrop had to be completely sound. The glass screening required structural calculations to take into account the glass weight and safety of staff. Another requirement was accessibility to the building's mechanical and electrical services behind the screen.
"To satisfy health and safety regulations the 13 illuminated large textured glass panels had to be laminated," explains Mark. "The two ends of the screen also had to be hinged to allow access for maintenance which provided a satisfactory solution".
The last area to benefit from architectural signage was the stairs. Five textured glass panels slightly overlapping each other were used to create a stylish branding of City Place and an impressive ascent. Again, concealed up lighters were used to illuminate the engraved lettering and project a subtle warmth to the space.
"In order for Signbox to create the required ambience as well as complement the building's interior design and architecture, all the panels were produced with a textured finish sandblasted to the rear. Using cast glass meant a three dimensional effect could be achieved in keeping with the ripples of the water in the cubes", reveals Mark.
The complete installation required Diamond drilling of the granite and chemical fixing of stainless steel glass support. The glass panels were also manufactured from toughened and laminated glass.
"The project took about four months to complete and the client was very pleased with the results as it met the initial objectives. I was very pleased with Signbox's interpretation of our concept designs and the high quality of the products." concludes Mike.
The architectural signage for City Place House has been awarded Interior Sign of the Year in the Interior Sign Industry Awards 2006. The judges felt the work done was perfect for its purpose, beautifully conceived and expertly engineered.