In an effort to capture our office's design philosophy for our building sign, we sought an expression of pure materiality--tectonically pure and simple, where every piece has a purpose. Eventually, we settled on the idea of a wood post, treated with a Japanese technique called 'Yakisugi' (sometimes called 'Shou-sugi-ban'). The technique involves charring the surface of wood (in this case cedar) thereby making it exceptionally moisture and insect resistant without the need for additional stains or finishes.
This solid black object is then complemented by raw mild steel. In order both to attach the sign panels and to protect the end-grain of the post, the steel panels were welded into a "U" shape that slips over the end of the post. A 1/4" reveal between the steel and the wood, and a slight taper of the glu-lam, allow for solar-powered LED backlighting, which turns on automatically when the sun goes down. If, in the future, someone else occupies our space at 405, the post can be unbolted from the plate, and another sign attached.
As the materials age, the black wood will slowly turn grey, and the steel will rust to a deep orange-red, such that they will always provide each other a complementary visual contrast.
LOCATION: 405 Linden Street, Fort Collins, Colorado
SCOPE: Design and Construction
COMPLETION: Spring 2015
AWARDS: City of Fort Collins 2015 Urban Design Awards: Urban Fragments