In 2016, Associated Banc-Corp (Associated) decided to move its downtown Milwaukee, Wis., flagship branch to the Two-Fifty Office Tower in the heart of the commercial business district. The company wanted a larger presence in downtown Milwaukee and selected this building because of its prominent space on Wisconsin Avenue and Broadway, and directly on the new Milwaukee streetcar route.
Designed by Rinka Chung Architecture, Inc., the new 2,100 square foot branch on the ground floor includes Associated’s unique branded architecture, full-service lobby with teller stations, drive-thru banking with 24-hour ATM, and fully integrated digital services.
To complement the building’s interior design renovation, exciting downtown location and the bank’s new rebranding, Associated and Rinka Chung knew they needed a dynamic and unique concept for the exterior signage. The sign also needed to aesthetically balance a parking garage that is on floors two – nine and additional 10 floors of office space above the parking.
Rinka Chung presented several design concepts from which Associated selected a seamless wrap-around LED sign to be mounted on two sides of the building.
Associated retained Milwaukee-based Poblocki Sign Company to design, engineer and install the wrap-around digital exterior sign, a new concept to the Associated branch exterior design. Before this even started, however, Poblocki oversaw the zoning application process with the City of Milwaukee. This went smoother than expected because the City was very receptive to the cutting-edge, multi-media sign.
In addition to the complex installation and engineering challenges that would be faced, the City was simultaneously connecting overhead wires for a new street car system. This had to be taken into consideration so the cranes and other equipment didn’t cause electrical problems or traffic congestion.
Poblocki needed to find an LED digital solution that could be designed, built, and installed in sections to meet the challenging installation issues. This display would need to withstand and adjust to sunlight and adverse weather conditions, be easily front-serviced, and could integrate with the bank’s existing digital signage software system.
Poblocki partnered with California-based Optec Displays, Inc., and selected Optec’s Intelligent-M2 modular display featuring ultra-high bright, smart LED tiles with all-weather performance. The new display features 10mm pixel pitch for enhanced resolution and superb image quality. The display was designed to form a seamless building wrap, measuring approximately 3’1” x 163’.
Installing the signs to the building required extensive engineering capabilities and precise calculations. For example, the pre-cast columns needed to be opened for the steel on the back of the signs to be attached to the I-beams. Once these steel brackets were mounted, the mason contractor closed the pre-cast columns.
“Optec’s modular LED system made installation far easier and the company was a great integration partner on this project,” said Matt Kaminski, senior sales consultant Poblocki Sign Company.
The bank has a long-standing relationship with Stratacache, a digital signage software company they utilize for all 288 branches’ interior LCD displays. The Intelligent-M2 is adaptable to many EMC software suites and utilizes modern applications and a cloud-based infrastructure to serve a variety of digital content and was perfect for integrating Associated’s existing software.
“We depended on Optec for overseeing the LED display’s technical details and integrating with Stratacache’s existing software platform to ensure everything worked cohesively,” commented Vito Parente, senior project manager Poblocki Sign Company. “Optec’s invaluable technical capabilities were a great asset on this project and helped guarantee the system was up and running for the ribbon cutting.”
The ease of integrating Stratacashe’s sign player with Optec’s LED displays will allow for future outdoor digital signage growth across all of Associated’s branches.
The large format display, which is installed approximately 13’ above the sidewalk and runs 163’ along the building, can be seeing from an astounding 1,200 feet away. The magnitude of this sign makes this street corner a landmark in downtown Milwaukee.
This seamless building wrap is a first for Associated and the company anticipates that the dynamic and engaging digital display helps increase awareness around their products and promotions. While the company is still experimenting with the content and learning the display’s full potential, the feedback has been extremely positive.