If the UTS Tower seems to stand taller and prouder than ever, it may be because the 1970s icon is about to get its name in lights.
New illuminated ‘sky signage’ has been installed on all four sides of the Tower (and in progress on Building 6), with the official ‘switching on’ due to take place later this month. And, as those who witnessed the installation unfold can attest, it was no mean feat to boost 12 very large letters 121 metres into the air.
UTS: InProgress spoke to Project Manager Bryce Hutchinson to find out more about this complicated project.
Q: Why the need for new signage?
A: The reason was three-fold. Firstly, we needed to update the font for consistency with the new UTS branding introduced in 2013, which is now used by all our new buildings. Secondly, with the Tower a prominent landmark on the Sydney city skyline and an icon for UTS, the opportunity to make it more visible at night was too good to miss. Perhaps most importantly is the fact that UTS is committed in its investment in the Tower and the new signage is a visual indicator of this. The Campus Master Plan is not only about new buildings and facilities but investing in existing buildings. The lifts upgrade and ongoing fit-out works across all floors are just two examples.
Q: Removing the old signage must have been a challenge. How did that happen?
A: A team of four abseilers accessed the old signage via the roof of the Tower and unbolted the letters. The main difficulty was that the signage was not able to fit whole through the rooftop doors so the letters sadly had to be cut into sections before we could bring them down.
Q: The Tower is 33 levels high. How did you get the new sky signage up there?
A: The 12 letters, three for each side of the building, were hauled up by crane to the top of Building 2, which is the equivalent of Tower level 8. From there, they were hauled, using rope access and rigging techniques, up the side of the Tower. The abseilers then descended from the roof to install them. We used 1km of ropes in the process!
New sky signage has been installed at the top of the Tower.
Q: How big is each letter?
A: Each new letter is 3.5 metres in height and weighs more than 120kg.
Q:How long did installation take?
A: Installing the new sky signage on the Tower took a little over two weeks and about a week on Building 6. But this was just the final stage of a year-long project, which began with an audit of UTS sky signage in June 2014.
Q: It looked very dramatic. What caused you the most concern?
A: We were at the mercy of the weather, which is one of the reasons the process took some time. We had a few windy days, and at times the conditions were simply too dangerous for even skilled abseilers to be up there. Of course, in high winds, there was also a risk to people on the ground, even with the exclusion zone we’d established. Safety came first every time.
Q: What are the sky signs made of?
A: They are essentially like large light boxes, with an aluminium frame and sheet backing, designed for robust performance in all weather conditions.
Q: Were you able to use environmentally friendly lighting?
A: Yes, we’re using energy-efficient LED lighting. Interestingly, the development application that went to Sydney City Council for approval had to show that we were offsetting some of the sky sign power elsewhere on campus, which we were able to do thanks to the sustainability features in Building 11.
Q: When the sky signage is switched on, what’s the best time to see it?
A: Definitely at night before 11pm when the white light is at 100% intensity. After 11pm, it drops to 50%, and down to 25% after 2am.
The new illuminated branding isn’t the only ‘sign’ of change at the Tower, with the consolidation of administrative units in the building continuing over coming months. Now that HRU and FSU are settled into their newly refurbished homes on levels 23 and 24, attention turns to the upgrade of levels 12, 15 and parts of levels 11 and 16 ahead of the relocation of SAU and ITD in late 2015.