Marquee Restoration Bullseye
When the popular Walker Theatre in Brooklyn closed its doors in 1988 after a successful 62-year run, it left the community missing its one-of-a-kind movie house – a 2,200 seat theater decorated in a dramatic combination of French renaissance and Roman detail with tunes chiming from a Wurlitzer pipe organ.
Converted to retail use in 1988, Target recently purchased the property and restored much of the interior to capture the beauty of this architectural gem, including meticulously gilded friezes and chandeliers. For the exterior, Philadelphia Sign Company, a full-service national signage provider (Palmyra, NJ), designed and built two-sided flag signage and a red and white deco-styled marquee with three pulsating “targets” on its underside. “We wanted to pay homage to the vintage marquees while adding a modern twist, using brilliant colors and state-of-the-art illumination,” said Dan Herrman, lead program engineer at Philadelphia Sign.
The marquee literally uses a thousand points of light in the form of 1,057 S14 bulbs along the sign’s top, bottom and returns. The faces (36 and 13 ft. wide) are pan-formed aluminum with internal aluminum angle supports welded at predetermined intervals. Philadelphia Sign formed aluminum channels around the perimeter of the structure (and flag sign) into which it ran the wiring for the bulbs, connecting them to a single 4-channel FMS chasing unit that controls the light show. The channels will enable simpler maintenance over the life of the signs.
“We had to consider quite a few factors in designing the illumination system – not the least of which was energy efficiency for such a large quantity of bulbs,” Herrman said. They chose an Ushio 1.5W LED bulb that met requirements for low power consumption, warm color temperature (2,700K) and compatibility with the FMS chasing controller. The marquee underside contains 672 bulbs that remain lit 24/7. SloanLED modules light the channel letters on both the marquee faces and flag signs. Total energy consumption is 1,215W.
“One of the interesting things about this project is we built the marquee in a modular fashion, adding sections one at a time rather than building a massive structure that had to be installed all at once,” Herrman said. Because the store resides in a bustling metropolitan area, signage installation occurred at night under limited illumination. According to Senior Project Manager George Backer, “With limited site storage, only the signage elements that could be installed each evening were delivered over eight nights.”
When comparing this with other projects, Herrman said, “Marquees have a way of bringing people in that no other signage does. We hope this tribute to the Walker Theatre resonates with the community.”