Well, Technically… Structural Support and Custom Solutions

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Given such talented designers, killer content, and overall advancement in display technology, digital signage is at the top of its game. LED spectaculars, in particular, are bigger, better, and bolder than ever. But a beautiful LED display is not just a pretty face. Many times, it takes engineering know-how, architectural expertise, and a ton of technological competence to get the job done. In this installment of Well, Technically…, SNA Displays project manager Nicole Rotyliano takes us through a few structural challenges for a seemingly simple LED video display at Millennium Place in Boston. Nicole is an electrical engineer and a member of our SNAPros® team of experts.

One of the benefits of being a leader in the digital signage space is getting the opportunity to build dynamic custom displays for unique settings and a wide range of environments. For a company that specializes in customized digital display solutions, we’ve been rewarded with many such opportunities. For example, take the LED Head digital sculpture, a highly custom build for the “As We Are” art piece, for which SNA Displays manufactured small LED panels that could be assembled along the contours of a larger-than-life human head.

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However, many times at SNA Displays, we’re asked to provide a custom-engineered solution for more practical purposes rather than for, ahem, turning heads. This might include a custom solution to wrap around a tight corner or overcome a structural challenge. Such was the case for a recent digital signage installation at Millennium Place, a luxury residential building in Boston.

For this seemingly standard digital billboard, which is cantilevered above the entrance to the Chinatown T stop at the northwest corner of Boylston and Washington streets, we did quite a bit of specialized custom work to get the job done.

SNA Displays worked directly with the site’s property managers at, hiring and overseeing steel fabricators, sign installers, surveyors, and inspectors. We even worked directly with Alucobond® cladding specialists to ensure a nice, clean finish.

After a building survey was performed, the SNA Displays team worked with architectural and structural engineers hired by ownership to design a steel-frame structure that would attach from outside the building to vertical steel beams on the inside of the wall. This attachment occurred through pre-existing louvers on the façade.

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The added primary steel columns support the weight of the entire display frame and the display itself. Because of the retrofit nature of the project (the display was not designed for in the original building construction), this primary support system had to be installed in the cavity behind the louvers and attached to the sign through the very limited access provided.

Also unique to this project was the use of Alucobond® cladding. The cladding was designed to match the existing build façade, a nicer finish than traditional sheet metal cladding, requiring a light-gauge framing system to support. The project entailed a unique application of the material as it is usually applied to large building facades. Sunrise Erectors performed a lot of the custom cuts and fitting onsite during the install to achieve an accurate finish and match the building’s existing features.

The fact is that most of the custom work we do doesn’t have the curb appeal of a lobby waterfall or a nine-story wrap-around radius. We’re okay with that because creative solutions come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, in the digital signage age we’re currently experiencing, where designers, architects, and developers are finding endlessly creative ways to implement dynamic LED displays, there are endlessly custom ways to get the job done.