October 18, 2009

Case Study: Westin Book Cadillac Hotel

In 1923, three brothers, J.B., Frank, and Herbert Book, started construction on what would be the tallest hotel in the world on Washington Boulevard in Detroit. With its 1,136 guest rooms and five floors of public space, patrons could enjoy three dining rooms, three ballrooms a spacious lobby and a ground floor retail arcade. In addition, the top floor housed radio station WCX, the predecessor to what is now WJR.In August of 2006, a new renovation headed by the Ferchill Group of Cleveland began that would transform the long vacant hotel to its former grandeur.

Spectrum Neon Company’s role in helping to revitalize this downtown jewel included design, engineering and building the Westin’s new signs. The scope of this historic project included almost three thousand interior signs spanning 31 floors. A variety of materials and sign types were produced to Westin’s exacting standards for quality.

ADA and directional, aluminum and stainless steel water-jet cut letters and etched plaques were produced beautifully and on budget. Exterior signs consisted of two sets of 6’ high individual channel letters using .090 aluminum backs and returns w/ 1/4” Lexan faces that were overlaid with 3M Dual Color film that gives a black opaque look for daytime and brilliant white at night. The even illumination is provided by 4 rows of Tri Phosphor Neon and with perfectly balanced transformers, can provide decades of maintenance free operation with surprisingly low power consumption. Finally, 80 ft. cranes were brought in to hang the signs six stories high at the corner of Washington and State Street.

Interior Signs: If there was ever an argument for strong design when it comes to interior branding, the folks at Westin did a great job at choosing colors and materials. The guest room ID and directionals made use of a custom dyed 3/8” acrylic piece with polished edges to mimic glass. Contrasting inserts and copy provided a rich contemporary look and feel. To protect wall coverings, we used aluminum shim plates screwed to the wall to provide a solid base to adhere the sign to.

Canopy Halo Signs: With just a few weeks left before to the Grand Opening, we were asked to construct two hanging Halo lit canopy signs. By working with the architect we accomplished the task in record time. We problem-solved and built the hanging brackets as the canopy was being constructed. We matched colors and incorporated Westin’s strong branding while ensuring that the overall look blended well with the faithfully recreated canopy. Neon was used for the Halo effect of the letters ensuring years of trouble free maintenance.

As with any job of this scale, keeping open communication with the customer is critical. As changes were made and new signage was added, Spectrum Neon Co. kept pace and delivered on time for the Westin Book Cadillac’s Grand Opening.