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Project Profile: Berklee College of Music, New Residence Hall


[Berklee College Residence Hall: to view, download images within your email program][Photo: Bruce T. Martin]


Whitney Veigas designed and supplied interior, exterior, and donor recognition signage for the new Berklee College of Music residence hall, designed by William Rawn Associates. The 16-story tower at 160 Massachusetts Avenue contains 173 dorm rooms, 23 practice rooms, six two-story common areas, a fitness center, 10 music production studios, and a 400-seat dining hall that doubles as a performance space.


The interior code-required signs are based on an existing campus-wide sign program, while wayfinding signage was created to help navigate the five floors of common areas. Donor recognition includes satin aluminum individual letters applied directly to architectural surfaces, as well as satin aluminum plaques used to identify room donors. Twenty-one large fabricated letters were mounted on the edge of the projecting canopy above the main entry, and are lit with a concealed light trough.


Current Projects

  • Currently working on a design-build project providing signage for the new headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Association (architect: Goody Clancy).

  • We are also currently handling signs, with a design-build contract with Consigli Construction, for two renovated 1950's era residence halls at UMass Lowell (architect: ADD Inc.).


3 Common Problems with Building Signage


Everyone knows signage can be a troublesome part of any building project. Here are three common signage problems that frequently crop up, and a strategy to overcome them quickly and economically.


[Paper signs: to view, download images within your email program]


1. Code Compliance


As construction on your project nears completion, and with Certificate of Occupancy inspections around the corner, you discover no provision has been made for critical code compliant signs: The MRL Control Room lettering that should appear on the elevator door frames has been missed, your Electrical Room signs don't have the necessary "No Storage Allowed" message, and the level indicator signs inside your exit stairwells lack the required wording.


2. Inaccurate Sign Messages


When you begin moving furniture into your new regional high school, you realize that messages on your signs match generic labels on the architect's floor plans — but this isn't what you need: What should be the "AP Chemistry Lab" has been labeled "Classroom 8"; your "Faculty & Staff Lounge" has been identified as a "Break Room"; and the sign at the entrance to the "Boy's Visiting Team Locker Room" reads "Boy's Locker Room 2". The verbiage on your signage is important. If it does not accurately reflect the terminology used by your stakeholders, the result will be a proliferation of hand-lettered paper signs taped over the face of your permanent plaques.


3. Missing Operational Signage (or , "where is the auditorium?")


There is a significant difference between a collection of code-compliant and room identification signs, and a sign program that enables easy navigation of your building. After they move in, building occupants often discover they need more signage — more than is required for a Certificate of Occupancy. This additional scope frequently includes directional and other operational signage that people need to simply find their way around and actually use the facility. Unfortunately, the upshot of this predicament is the creation of a second group of signs which do not necessarily match the first in terms of material, finish, graphic layout, or construction. It could not be more ironic: the one building system specifically intended to communicate information to users, more often than not, rapidly deteriorates into a confusing mess.


Is there an easy way to prevent these problems on your project?


Absolutely. The easiest solution is to engage the services of a signage design specialist, but many projects just can't absorb the cost of a graphic consultant. How can the architect, building owner, and sign company work together to achieve a cost effective and high quality signage program? Here are three approaches:


  • Design-build. Pull signage out of the general construction package altogether. The owner and architect can work with a design-build team comprised of a qualified architectural sign company with in-house, or out-sourced design capabilities. Take advantage of all the benefits that accrue to a single source signage solution.

  • An allowance. The architect can work with a qualified sign company to establish a vocabulary of sign types and quantities, and to determine an allowance amount to be carried in the construction documents. This establishes an up- front budget, and the specification is written by a sign expert.

  • The competitive bid process, governed only by a written specification, is the most common approach to signage. Although this is necessary on some projects, the architect can solicit useful input from an experienced architectural signage company to mitigate the most egregious specification problems. In the very near future, SeeSaw will introduce a series of new signage specification tools designed to make this traditional approach deliver better results.


The key to success in all three of these scenarios is finding and working with a truly qualified architectural signage firm, like Whitney Veigas. By engaging a firm like ours that both specializes in architectural signage and is flexible enough to meet the needs of your project, you can ensure that you facility avoids the problems listed above.



Whitney Veigas: The Right Firm For You


[Temple Beth Elohim image: to see this picture, download the images within your email program]  
  • Our focus is solely on architectural sign programs.

  • We are pioneers in the delivery of turn-key design-build solutions for our clients.

  • Our documentation is regarded as some of the best in our industry.

  • With our 30 years of experience and multi-disciplinary professional knowledge, we can accurately identify signage requirements, provide useful value engineering recommendations, and untangle the needs of projects both large and small.

  • Our sign design approach is simple, refined, and restrained. It is not dominated by aesthetics, but balances other factors including cost and functionality. We view signage as a "background" product that should be subordinated to other architectural priorities. Signs should compliment — and not compete with — the architecture in which the signs are installed.


[arrow image]   For assistance with signs
on your next project,
please contact Jean Veigas
in our office.






Design and Documentation Services :: Sign Supply :: Turnkey Design-Build Solutions


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