Everyone in Milwaukee recognizes the clock on the Allen Bradley tower, located just south of downtown. It stands tall atop the building that is headquarters for Rockwell Automation, one of the city’s largest employers and a Fortune 500 company.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records: “The largest four-faced clock is that on the research and office addition of the Allen-Bradley Company. Each face has a diameter of 40 feet, 3-1/2 inches. Dedicated on October 31, 1962, it rises 280 feet from the streets of Milwaukee…”

Because it is iconic, the clock is a prominent feature in company advertising. That includes the ad seen by many travelers making their way through General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA).  The ad is located above an escalator that transports travelers back and forth between the gate and baggage claim areas.

The client wanted to update the look of the ad/sign to reflect the modern aspects of their business but keep the clock in place.  They suggested materials, especially perforated metal mesh so we factored that into our initial design.

We coordinated this project with Clear Channel.  They installed two flat screen monitors that displayed a continuous loop of Rockwell Automation video commercials.

The Challenges

This project presented the Sign Effectz, Inc. design and installation team with three major challenges:

  • Placement of the sign is over an escalator. And the escalators were new so airport administration didn’t want a scratch on them. So our crew took extra special care in making sure that objective was met.
  • The original base of the sign was a heavy wooden frame. The entire piece, including the clock and four different layers, was built out like the frame of a house.  The original clock was integrated into this frame.  The challenge was working with the clock in the surrounding / connected frame and to preserve it for use on the new sign. Because we couldn’t remove the last two layers without removing the clock, we elected to place a black aluminum facing on top of the surface.  This provided a new pallet with which we could work. The end result is that it looks like an original design, rather than a build-over.
  • Installation was limited to four hour windows. Our crew worked from12:45am to 4am, which is when no flights were scheduled.  The crew came back 4 times.  We carefully planned each visit to get as much done possible and we tarped up the area every night before leaving.  We also had to ensure that the escalator was functional. We complied with all security requirements and coordinated our efforts with airport administration, who did not want any disruptions to passengers moving through the airport.

Every challenge was met successfully.  Perhaps most importantly, the project was completed on time.  The company was hosting an important conference with many out of town attendees traveling through GMIA.  The sign was ready for all attendees to see on their way to Rockwell Automation!

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