Tower-ing Achievements

The up-and-coming Cannery Lindale is a retail, entertainment, and living development in Lindale, Texas that counts country music recording artist and native Miranda Lambert among its backers. Its management realized they needed on-premise custom signage that would transform the “ordinary” into the “spectacular.”

The Cannery Lindale was previously two historical buildings that were now outfitted with exterior elevation wood-finished façades, so officials thought monument-type signs reflecting a rural, country atmosphere would work best. Their idea was something mimicking old-time wooden water towers—but accompanied with touches of the modern.

They reached out to full-service Design Center Signs of Tyler, Texas, to inquire about any possible solutions here. “We feel we have a niche in custom-fabricated signs,” says Commercial Operations Director Rachel Moore. “We have worked with architects and developers using materials that really stretch the limits of traditional signs.”

Design Center Signs worked up two water towers, each with their own unique components.

The first 120-inch-tall water tower sign features a 16mm Watchfire XVS EMC on both sides, as well as halo-lit “Cannery” letters, a faux-rusted roof, and faux-wood foam sides. This sign is prominently set up at the property’s entrance and is the first thing that visitors see. The digital screen, connected via broadband wireless, promotes tenants, entertainment acts, and special events.

The second 86-inch-tall water tower sign is set up in the Cannery’s center courtyard. It sports graffiti-style, painted “The Cannery” lettering. It also features an overflowing water feature with color-changing RGB LED accent lighting.

“The water runs up the leg of the sign and flows into the bottom pan that was made to fill up at the same level,” explains Moore. “So when the pan overflows, the water cascades over the top of the lip. We mounted the RGB LEDs to this bottom pan.”

Having their designers and fabricators work closely together, Design Center Signs custom-built every other piece of the water towers in their shop.

However one big challenge was to achieve a wood-like appearance that would successfully reflect the local culture yet also be able to withstand the ravages of weather and time. Moore states that, because of a shortened timeline, her company didn’t have the chance to prototype pieces of this project beforehand, as they normally would. “We received a sample piece of distressed wood from the customer,” she says, “and they approved the rust finish.”

Since Design Center Signs was building the metal framework for these signs, they turned to Signs By Benchmark ( to supply a hard-coated wood finish to the EPS foam on both water towers. Signs By Benchmark also provided integration support for the EMC and the overflowing water feature.

Moore and her company had worked with Signs by Benchmark on many other custom projects. “They’re very knowledgeable on the latest sign trends with finishes,” she comments.

On the EMC pylon, Signs By Benchmark created the two side pieces featuring a wood grain finish and faux-rusted bands from EPS foam. They also crafted two smaller EPS foam sections behind the channel letters that tie in with the on-premise buildings.

“We didn’t have to make the panels that deep, since they were getting mounted to the already-built framework,” says Signs By Benchmark Designer Jamie Kakacek.

Signs By Benchmark had been working on a realistic wood grain finish for quite awhile, and thanks to their team of on-staff artists, they achieved it by using a stucco coating. As with their other foam-core monument signs, they sprayed a pure polyuria coating over all the pieces.

“We worked closely with Design Center Signs to make sure we had the mounting provisions in the right place to avoid any mishaps during installation,” states Kakacek. “We even provided them with templates of them.”ToweringAchieve2

Both the EMC and water-feature pylon signs were pretty similar in construction. “The foam round ends on the bigger sign were built to compensate for the flat EMC and not lose the round look of the sign,” says Moore.

Signs By Benchmark shipped all the parts from their South Dakota-based facility directly to Design Center Signs. “Due to the smaller size of the water-feature pylon, we were actually able to assemble it here at our facility and ship it out as one complete section,” remarks Kakacek.

Installers set the steel posts for both water tower signs first on the sections of the property that had been landscaped in preparation for them. Then, using their cranes, they set up the cladding and the components over it, building from the sign frame up.

Due to the lightweight nature of EPS foam, dressing up a metal frame and surrounding two electronic message centers on the water towers proved a simple task.

In the end, both water tower signs added “award-winning” to their list of adjectives. The Cannery Lindale EMC captured Gold in the Watchfire Sign Design Award, as well as Second Place “Freestanding Sign” with the Texas Sign Association, while the Cannery Lindale Water Feature won First Place “Restoration and Historical Reproductions” with the Texas Sign Association.

By Jeff Wooten

All photos: Design Center Signs

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