Adding letters to a classic amphitheater

By Ruslan Pozhidayev

Posted on Saturday, March 5th, 2022

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Over a year ago, I was contacted by a company who was designing lighted lettering for the Spreckels Temple of Music at Golden Gate Park, a beautiful amphitheater that was built in 1900. The concept drawings that they showed me were conventional white front-lit channel letters on a raceway. My immediate first thought was that it was too heavy and bulky. When we started talking, I learned that the Historical Preservation Committee was asking the sign to look like a part of the building and not to blind and distract the audience.

After analyzing the area I suggested dark bronze back-lit architectural letters on a thin frame, using an unobtrusive mounting method rather than a big bulky raceway. I built a proof of concept first and then a prototype to do real tests and show how it would work. That design went along with the committee’s requirements and the project was approved. I have to say it was not fast and easy, and all this invisible work was beautifully handled by our client and his team.

Another constraint was that the committee only allowed fasteners in the mortar joints—not the stone. The installation had to be carefully considered. The 48-in.-tall “Lift Every Voice” sign had to have good support. I worked with my structural engineers to get a frame design that would be as light as possible yet have the best support for the weight and wind load.

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