Columbia College Chicago will have a student center for the first time in its 127-year history. The new center is a five-story, 114,000 square foot facility with the exterior built predominantly in glass. The center is designed to be a cornerstone of the student experience at Columbia where students can collaborate and study in informal settings outside the classroom.

Columbia College is a liberal arts college located in the heart of the city of Chicago. Columbia worked with Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, to develop the design for their student center. Columbia then contracted directly with Poblocki to fabricate and install the exterior signage.

Columbia College
Columbia College Chicago

The main Columbia sign consists of large lit letters designed to look like neon but built with cost and energy efficient cool white LED lighting. The eight-foot letters are installed on the second-floor entry canopy on power raceways that align with the mullions to minimize visibility of the supports. Poblocki used pre-tensioned cables to suspend the letters, prevent swaying and give the appearance of floating letters.

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The installation was challenging because the building was operational, and walkways needed to be maintained. It was also challenging to stage the spyder crane, articulating lift and scissors lift within the small space because all the work was done behind the glass with no access for lifting above the building.

The end result is an impressive day and night branding for Columbia that further enhances the student experience.

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