Arrow Sign Co. plays a key role in branding Hollywood’s W Hotel.
By John Lilly
In 1923, Hollywood, CA, bustled with commercial activity. Movie studios opened all over town, and many iconic signs that identified the now-famous landmarks sprouted like wildflowers across the Los Angeles hills. While oil discoveries, such as those in nearby Long Beach, propelled America’s love affair with the automobile, local land developers hired Crescent Sign Co. to erect the massive “Hollywoodland” sign to advertise an under-construction housing development. During the 1950s, the sign was contracted to, simply, “Hollywood.”
The landmark’s rise to prominence coincided with a three-fold increase in the number of automobiles on the road from 1920 to 1923. With so many people speeding by in their fancy new motorcars, signmakers worked hard to keep up. Small, discreet signs were on the way out; large-scale spectaculars became all the rage.
In January 2006, a team of professionals began planning an important cog in the current generation of iconic signs worthy of Hollywood’s upscale, yet flashy, image. The W Hotel project started as a vision HKS Inc., an architectural firm, cultivated on behalf of Starwood Resorts, operators of the high-end W chain, which includes approximately 30 hotels worldwide. In addition to the architects, key project players included environmental-graphic designers Sussman/Prejza (Culver City, CA); Webcor Builders (San Mateo, CA), the construction contractor; DCI Engineers (Seattle), the structural engineer; Van Wagner Advertising (Los Angeles), which managed the property’s ad panels; and Arrow Sign Co. (Oakland, CA).
Shortly after the W’s development process began, Arrow also fabricated signage for an adjacent project, the Legacy Apartments, which included many of the same principals and a concurrent development and production timeline. Charlie Stroud, Arrow’s president, became involved when he created structural drawings and assessments that defined the scope of the work. He said, “Handling two separate, major projects was very demanding.”
The Tinseltown image
Leron Gubler, president and CEO of Hollywood’s Chamber of Commerce, said, “Such signage isn’t without controversy, but if it works anywhere, it’s in larger-than-life Hollywood. It helps perpetuate the image of Hollywood as a glitzy, glamorous area. Over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t do something normal in Hollywood. People’s expectations are different. We encourage developers to think big.”
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