A Monument Sign with Lofty Goals

Clear Sign & Design produced an attractive and sturdy marker for a new, high-end residence.
Clear Sign & Design’s (San Marcos, CA) mini-monument for Skyloft’s leasing office.

Southern California is not only a melting pot of cultural diversity and industry, it’s also a pressure cooker of radical ideas, dreams, and (of course) lots of sunny weather. With so many large industries colliding, the demand for talent is powerful, as is the demand for housing. Focusing in a little closer on the map, you will find the pinnacle master-planned city of Irvine, a high-tech, higher-education powerhouse with a median income 52% higher than the national average, according to bestplaces.net. A large percentage of that talent pool are currently clamoring for high-style, amenity-filled residences with little-to-no-maintenance so they can spend more of their time outside, enjoying all that Southern California has to offer. 


One of the developers stepping up to satisfy the demand is Sanderson J. Ray Development (SJRD; Irvine, CA). A local commercial developer with a specialty in taking odd-shaped properties and developing them into gems, SJRD played to its strength by transforming a five-acre site located on the corner of Main and Jamboree into Skyloft, a 388-unit Class-A residence oozing with the latest and greatest technology, amenities and award-winning style. SJRD broke ground in 2017 with StreetLights Residential (San Diego), a specialist in high-end hotels and apartments, as the builder of choice, with construction and expansion having continued to this day. 

The fabrication team at work on the sign cabinet.
The fabrication team at work on the sign cabinet.

Because the competition within this space is fierce, SJRD spared no expense assembling the best architect, interior designer and branding agency in the area. Armed with a solid project position and branding theme, our firm, Clear Sign & Design (San Marcos, CA), followed up on their efforts by providing a turnkey design-build service for all of the projects’ marketing, leasing, code requirements, garage and exterior illuminated signage. Although the team at Clear Sign has installed more than 1,500 custom signs ranging from blackened-steel ADA signs, painted garage graphics, halo channel letters, frosted window graphics and more, we still asked SJRD to single out the unique concrete entry monument to showcase. 


This particular sign was intended to be subtle in not only size, but also proportions. We wanted to establish a durable structure that seemed to be growing from the planter. For that, we designed a one-piece, pre-cast concrete base with etched and filled geometric lines derived from the branding guide. Decorating the monolith structure would be a seamless band of fabricated aluminum that would actually wrap around the concrete and provide the placement for the push-through acrylic lettering, as well as a subtle, halo glow allowing the etch and fill details never to go unnoticed. 

We take great pride in some of the smallest details. From our push-through letter ledge and attachment design, to the seamless floating effect of the aluminum sign body, these facets improve not only the curb appeal, but also the durability of the product. For many projects, this process starts with our engineering team constructing the design through SOLIDWORKS 3D-design software to help prevent conflicts and to improve things like structure fluidity and welding attachment points. From there, we invest in thicker aluminum frames and skins than many of the comparative products I see when I walk other jobsites. Oil-canning, warping, fallen push-through letters and cracks from poorly designed seams and joints are all reminders of why we invest the extra time and money.

Once the structure was built and pre-fit onto the pre-cast base, our paint department treated the body with multiple coats of Matthews Ultra Low VOC paint and a satin clear coat for maximum durability. We specified Bitro Bantam LED modules for lighting duty, powered by a pair of Mean Well CLG-60-12 single-output LED drivers, located within a service closet of the building. (It has always bothered me to see other fabricators disregard the importance of making custom signs like these easy to service. No one wants to send three techs out to handle this heavy sign body and risk damage to change a $35 part. For that reason, we always aim to install remote power supplies whenever possible.) 


Clear Sign assembled the cabinet and concrete backing and footing at the shop, and transported the sign to the site, allowing for a straightforward lift-and-place installation into a landscaped planter.
Clear Sign assembled the cabinet and concrete backing and footing at the shop, and transported the sign to the site, allowing for a straightforward lift-and-place installation into a landscaped planter.

Installation was only a one-day affair thanks to the modular and one-piece sign/spread footing design. Due to the working radius, we were forced to leave our Skyhoist at home, and opted for a 30-ton crane rental with the proper capacity working with a 40-ft. radius. Then, rather than sitting around waiting for cement to dry, our technicians needed only to excavate for the footing and conduit sweep, then drop in this 5,500-lb. beauty, backfill and admire the fruits of their labor. 

Clear Sign goes to the lengths that we do for details that many people will never notice, because we see the art in all that we do. This super-small monument is being asked to do something very important: identify a space, communicate intent and stand out from the crowd.


Software: Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS, solidworks.com; SA International Flexi and EnRoute, thinksai.com 
Router: MultiCam 5000 Series, multicam.com
Substrates: Precast concrete, .125-in. aluminum skin and angle, 3/4-in. clear acrylic
Coatings: Matthews Paint Ultra Low VOC paint and satin clear coat, matthewspaint.com
Lighting: Bitro Bantam LED modules, bitrogroup.com; Mean Well CLG-60-12 LED drivers, meanwell-web.com