View Full Version : Reuters got neon and electronic signs

December 19th, 2001, 09:25 PM
The neon on Reuters Building (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/3xsq/default.htm) and the reflection of Conde Nast Building (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/4xsq/default.htm)


The view from the corner of Broadway and 44th Street. Notice also the vertical "Ernst and Young" sign on Ernst and Young Building (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/5xsq/default.htm)


The Seventh Avenue entrance of*Reuters Building (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/3xsq/default.htm).


February 17th, 2003, 01:31 PM
The Great Red, Green and Blue Way
By David Dunlap — 30 December 2001

THEY say the light-emitting diodes are bright on Broadway. Just when it seemed Times Square could not get much more dazzling, several new supersigns were switched on recently, transforming a half dozen office towers and stores into colossal, kinetic video monitors and digital displays.

Though not as charming as the vintage Little Lulu and her Kleenex box or as insouciant as the puffing Camel smoker, they have enough candlepower to be visible at high noon. Millions of brilliant diodes have turned Times Square from an after-dark showcase into a round-the-clock spectacle. Their immediacy was evident on Sept. 11, when hundreds of pedestrians stood transfixed watching the collapse of the World Trade Center on the giant screens. For a moment, Times Square felt once again like Manhattan’s town square, with people gathering for bulletins as they had during World War II.

*Even when the content is far less compelling, the effect of two dozen jumbo screens playing simultaneously and inaudibly -- as if some cosmic “Mute” button had been pushed -- can be utterly mesmerizing. Individual commercial messages are subsumed in the marvelously discordant visual symphony. Buildings now wear signs as a second skin. At 745 Seventh Avenue, which is to be occupied by Lehman Brothers, the architects of Kohn Pedersen Fox sandwiched windows between spandrel panels of light-emitting diodes that wrap around and animate the entire base, from 49th to 50th Street. The Reuters and Instinet sign at 3 Times Square breaks the boundary between inside and outside with panels that seem to transmit images from the sky into the building.

Architecture might take an even wilder turn in the future with light-emitting polymers, flexible sheets that could wrap or wallpaper whole buildings, said John Mayo-Smith, vice president of technology at the R/GA Media Group of Manhattan, which developed the software behind the Reuters sign.

Not long ago, owners and tenants fought -- or at least questioned -- the signs required by the city and state to preserve the visual character of Times Square. Now, they exceed the guidelines. At 3 Times Square, the state required 14,000 square feet of signage. A total of 33,938 square feet was created: 15,169 for Reuters and Instinet; 12,769 for the Rudin Organization, developers of the tower; and 6,000 for the Prudential Insurance Company, the original owner of the site.

“It came down to our desire to push that envelope,” said Glenn J. Elliott, senior vice president of real estate services at Reuters America Holdings. Edwin Schlossberg Inc. designed the Reuters sign, working with Fox & Fowle, the architects of the tower.

Although the latest Times Square signs are almost exclusively devoted to their sponsors, the owners recognize the commercial potential of giant video and digital displays that can be changed far more easily and rapidly than neon spectaculars, painted walls or even vinyl sheets. In the near term, however, the recession and a growing concern about light pollution may dampen demand for the supersigns.

“The sign industry is not what it used to be,” said Douglas Durst of the Durst Organization, developers of 4 Times Square, which just mounted a big green “4” on the east face of the four-sided sign atop the tower. “We’d much prefer to have a tenant,” Mr. Durst said, “but besides Teligent, we haven’t had a tremendous amount of interest.” And Teligent, a wireless communications company that took the west face, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

A bill to limit excessive outdoor illumination and “light trespass” across property lines has passed in the Legislature but not yet been signed by Gov. George E. Pataki. Among his concerns, his aides said, are that the lights of Broadway might be affected.

WHATEVER happens, though, it is clear that the little diode -- a semiconductor device that emits light when electricity passes through it -- has conquered Times Square. “It’s a world of L.E.D. components,” said Kenton Jenkins, vice president and general manager of W.W.F. New York, which spent $7.9 million to recreate the bow-shaped marquee on the landmark Paramount Building at Broadway and 43rd Street and the arch around it. The marquee leads to the World Wrestling Federation store and restaurant.

While the arch was covered in a hoarding during reconstruction, the federation hung vinyl banners. It cost $30,000 to change them, Mr. Jenkins said. “You’re money ahead, 10 years down the line, to put in an L.E.D. board,“ he said. “They’re huge revenue centers in Times Square.”

The sign was made by ADF Steel in South Plainfield, N.J., then trucked across the George Washington Bridge. Plans for a gala inauguration were overtaken by the September attack, which left sign operators scrambling to figure out what to display. Mr. Jenkins envisioned a billowing American flag. The diode sign manufacturer, Multimedia of Rancho Cordova, Calif., created the programming overnight and e-mailed it. On Sept. 12, the flag was unfurled.
The Paramount sign sets three new diode boards in a painstakingly recreated 1927 marquee. The original adorned the Paramount Theater, which closed in 1964, and was lost without a trace, said Robert Mark Parnes of Tobin + Parnes Design Enterprises, architects of the simulacrum.

To satisfy the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the new sign had to follow the signature bow of the old Paramount marquee. “This is the first L.E.D. sign to curve in the Y direction,” said Andrea B. Dibner of Tobin + Parnes. “Seven or eight L.E.D. manufacturers said, ‘You’re crazy.’ ”

Mr. Parnes said that the original had been altered over time and that there was precedent for what seems to be the incongruous contrast of a Baroque frame around pulsating electronics.
The previous existence of another Times Square marquee, over the former Criterion Theater at 44th Street, provided the necessary precedent that allowed Toys “R“ Us to build a sign over the sidewalk outside its store, which includes the space occupied by the Criterion. (The sign was made by Saco Smartvision of Montreal, which was also responsible for the Nasdaq sign.)

The electronic sign is not the real scene-stealer, though. That distinction goes to a scrimlike mechanical sign system that changes the store’s facade constantly. “It’s low tech in theory, but after that, it’s more complicated than an L.E.D,” said Philip Lenger of Show & Tell Productions of Manhattan, which created the Toys “R” Us signs. The store was designed by Gensler.

The chamfer-cornered sign is a grid of 165 sections, each 30 square feet, behind a glass curtain wall. Within each section is a 48-foot-long scroll between motorized rollers made by the Diazit Company, better known for blueprint machines. The scrolls, changed monthly, are imprinted with seven different images and also have one clear panel, so that the entire facade can be made transparent. Elliott Wahle, vice president and general manager of the Times Square store, said that the sign would eventually become a profit center on its own as a showcase for toymakers and that it would repay the investment, which he did not disclose.
Mr. Elliott, of Reuters, said his company might consider commercial use of its 290-foot-8-inch-high sign, which should be fully running next month. Its chief function, though, is as a “big window into the building,“ said the designer, Edwin Schlossberg.

“I wanted to create a metaphor for the sign: information coming from the top, from the ether and sliding into the building,” Dr. Schlossberg said. Rather than eye candy, he said, it is to be a “vehicle by which the public could see into Reuters.”

The sign, which cost more than $20 million, is shared by Reuters and Instinet, an electronic stock trading concern in which Reuters has a majority stake. “We provide data to clients but this is the first time we’re able to present it to the public,” said Calvin Mitchell III, senior vice president for global marketing and communications at Instinet.

What may be the most talked-about feature of the sign will be a news thermometer indicating whether it is a red hot news day or a cool blue one. Passers-by will be able to look up and quickly gauge whether they should be paying attention to bulletins.
“Hopefully, it will be useful,” Dr. Schlossberg said. “We’re in such a weird moment where people are desperate for more information but inured to so much.”

The “temperature” would be established through a formula incorporating factors like the concentration of stories coming from one part of the world -- say, Kandahar -- and the number of hits that the stories are registering on the Reuters Web site.

Shaped like an inverted T, the Reuters sign is ideally suited for use as a thermometer, since it has an exceptionally tall and skinny stem, 13 by 169 feet, under which is the balcony of the Instinet president’s office and a 28-by-46-foot screen. The horizontal crossbar is formed of nine more screens, cascading toward and into the lobby.

It is programmed automatically to draw news, pictures, videos, financial data and graphics from 27 sources; standardize the information; store it in a database; and schedule its display, coordinating images so they move seamlessly across the face of the signs and the voids between them. “Think of the sign as a cable news program on autopilot,” said Mr. Mayo-Smith of R/GA.

The sign was made by Diamond Vision Systems of Lawrenceville, Ga., a division of Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics, and has 5,660,672 light-emitting diodes.
Impressive as that sounds, it is less than one-third the number -- 18,677,760 -- of light-emitting diodes in the Nasdaq tower sign across Broadway. Only two years ago, Nasdaq was the shiny new kid on the block: a quarter-acre cylinder 120 feet tall.

Lately, however, it has been showing its age. As panels burned out because of water damage, those in the center were swapped for good panels on the edge, leaving a blank border. Nasdaq expects that the full array will be back in place early next year.

Nasdaq also intends to improve the imagery, which does not look as sharp as that on the newer signs, by commissioning graphics specially for the sign rather than borrowing and reformatting videos.

February 17th, 2003, 01:45 PM
I really dig the reuters sign, but it doesn't compare to the Nasdaq sign, which was an instant icon as soon as it was switched on.

"The sign was made by ADF Steel in South Plainfield, N.J...."

I know where that is, it's very close to me. *It's always neat to know what goes on in those big plants.

February 17th, 2003, 02:10 PM
The view on 3 Times Square (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/3xsq/default.htm) during the snowstorm on 30 December 2000.


A blizzard roared through the New York metropolitan area Monday, blanketing the city with its thickest coat of snow in seven years. 17 February 2003.

The animated sign on 3 Times Square (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/3xsq/default.htm), which cost more than $20 million, is shared by Reuters and Instinet, an electronic stock trading concern in which Reuters has a majority stake. The sign was made by Diamond Vision Systems, a division of Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics, and has over 5 million light-emitting diodes.


February 18th, 2003, 01:38 AM
We need to work more on the global warming process. So far it's a total failure.

February 18th, 2003, 02:14 AM
Fabb, are you referring to the seemingly senseless usage of large amounts of energy that is used to power these signs?

(Edited by amigo32 at 2:35 am on Feb. 18, 2003)

February 18th, 2003, 06:39 AM
No, I'm talking about the global warming caused by the emission of heat trapping CO2.
I'm not sure I'm serious though.

February 18th, 2003, 09:56 AM
Edward, excellent blizzard pictures. *I take it you spent your Monday in the Times Square area. *I took the Central Park route. *Perhaps I will post my pictures here at some point.

February 18th, 2003, 01:40 PM
Fabb, are you referring to the seemingly senseless usage of large amounts of energy that is used to power these signs?

I love how these new Times Square buildings, especially 4xsq, are touted as "green" and highly advanced in the conservation of energy, and then have these incredible signs that probably use up all the energy saving bonuses of the technologies used.

February 18th, 2003, 03:25 PM
i think times square is one of the most beautiful places on new york city as well as on earth. Its so exciting and with the vibrant new skyscrapers it looks amazing

February 18th, 2003, 09:07 PM
Quote: from dbhstockton on 1:40 pm on Feb. 18, 2003
I love how these new Times Square buildings, especially 4xsq, are touted as "green" and highly advanced in the conservation of energy, and then have these incredible signs that probably use up all the energy saving bonuses of the technologies used.

I remember watching a program about Times Square on the History Channel. *The program mentioned that the zoning laws mandate that signs be put on any new buildings. *If that's the case, then the developers have to put those flashy signs on their buildings. *Besides, those signs make Times Square, Times Square.

(Edited by Evan at 9:08 pm on Feb. 18, 2003)

February 18th, 2003, 09:14 PM
And the signs excel in bringing visitors to the area too, believe it or not.

February 18th, 2003, 10:11 PM
I wasn't passing judgement on the signs -- I love them, especially NASDAQ. *It's just funny the way the zoning requirements cancel out the highly-touted environmental advances.

October 9th, 2003, 12:28 AM