The brand-new Innovative Dental facility in Springfield, Missouri is all about patient comfort. In front of the two-story, U-shaped building is a relaxing water garden featuring fountains, ponds, and fish. Inside suites with their own balconies (resembling luxury hotel rooms) help make dental surgeries more relaxing.
Because he knows the dental office is a destination, Dr. Grant Olson wanted to make sure his new office was one that you could not miss. And digital signage is helping big-time in this area as well.
Dr. Olson not only is using a pair of 16-feet-tall-by-9-feet-wide Watchfire 8mm signs mounted onto a 40-foot-tall pylon in his parking lot strategically angled to be visible to drivers going north and south on Highway 44, but he also he outfitted the front of the building with a two-story, all-glass-front lobby that houses a 27-foot-tall-by-16-foot-wide, 2.4mm Watchfire display.
During the day, the huge vertical sign is devoted to emotional videos of smiling people doing fun things. At the bottom third of the display is a scroll of social media messages. At night, when it is most visible from the highway, the sign is used for eye-catching videos. For example, at Christmas, there was a giant image of a tree with snow falling!
Dr. Olson got the idea for the huge signs after seeing brilliant-looking LED displays at tradeshows. When he first started considering this option, the investment would have been about $500,000; but since the price of LEDs dropped considerably, he was able to make this investment when he put in the new building.
Nearby full-service Springfield Sign handled the installation of the exterior and interior signage. This was the first time that Springfield Sign had worked with Innovative Dental. “The architect of the building is a client of mine, so they referred us when the [dental practice] was accepting bids from multiple sign companies,” says Trey Watts, vice president of Sales for Springfield Sign.
However Springfield Sign had to look at this as two separate projects, as originally they were contracted to only handle the exterior signage. Then they looked at the dental practice’s renderings and told them that they could handle the interior as well. “Watchfire had been working with them, as well, so we kind of partnered up and did a sales pitch,” says Watts. “They then looked at it as kind of a package deal.”
The original concepts drawn up by Innovative Dental involved putting together multiple high-definition TV screens in the interior. “We told them we could instead provide one big, seamless video display,” says Watts, showing them examples of dental practices using similar displays in Chicago and Miami. (“There was nothing this size or resolution close by us in the Midwest.”)
The interior Watchfire digital display is one large unit that is comprised of a large volume of little tiles (modules).
This massive interior digital display stands in Innovative Dental’s main lobby, but its visual impact isn’t limited to just those inside. As mentioned, the building faces a major freeway, and its entire front was purposefully made out of glass. “Of course, if you’re sitting in the lobby, you can look at it,” says Watts. “But the real selling point is, as you’re driving down this highway in either direction, you can still see this unit since the entire front of the building is glass.”
The new Innovative Dental facility faces east and west, which played another critical role in opting for a seamless digital display over stacked high-definition TVs. “In the morning, when the sun comes up, direct sunlight shines through the windows and onto that unit,” says Watts. “This would cause major glare problems on a TV. We already fight that a lot on exterior digital displays. You want to make sure you have a high enough Nit rating that you can basically overpower the sun while still being able to see that board, and you can do that with this Watchfire display.
“Sure TVs would be less expensive, but we told Dr. Olson that he wouldn’t have the same impact from the street with the sun beating onto them through those windows.”
Another important thing to keep in mind here is that Dr. Olson also does a lot of cosmetic dentistry. “Cosmetic dentists are very, very detail-oriented,” says Watts, “almost painfully so. So one of his big things was ‘borderless’—he didn’t want a frame all the way around, which you would have with a TV display. You can get them pretty close to the edge, but you’ll always have a border.
“The digital display is basically a frameless module all the way around from top to bottom with no bezel.”
You can literally walk up to this display and put your hands on it. The crisp resolution means that the picture looks great standing five feet away just as it looks great when seeing it from the freeway.
The 2.4mm resolution was selected for this interior display because Dr. Olson wanted a very high-resolution board. And just like the facility in general, he didn’t spare any expense on the signage side either.
“We gave him a choice between 2.4 and 3.8mm, and he plainly asked which would look better,” says Watts. “We gave him our opinion, and that’s the one he went with. It was more like he was already making an investment, so there was no reason to cheap out and then come to us down the line and not really be happy with it.”
This interior digital display made up of individual tiles sits flush back into a wall to make it look flat. Springfield Sign worked with the architect and construction crew ahead of time to set the necessary depth. “They built around it,” says Watts. “So you have the drywall, then it goes to our screen. Then you go across our screen, and it goes back to drywall.”
Springfield Sign used a lift to install the interior display during the early part of the construction process when the building was much more of an open area.
Since this is a modular-based frame system, it arrived on-site in pieces. “We installed the frame to create a grid,” says Watts. “Then we built up, attaching the tiles one at a time to this grid,” says Watts.
One of the biggest challenges Springfield Sign encountered was keeping the tiles flush and even across the 16-by-27-foot frame. “If you don’t seat those panels exactly right, your modules might wave a little bit, as you start building,” says Watts. “So when the modules catch up to each other, if one is cocked out (about 1/16-inch or even less), you’ll see lines when a full-color image is shown across a big board like this.”
The sign makers worked hand-in-hand with Watchfire to make sure it was smooth by assessing the position of tiles as they were put on, which, although time consuming, was necessary. “ It was a significant investment for [Dr. Olson], as well as a showpiece, so we wanted to make sure it looked right,” says Watts.
Since the digital display is inside the building, there was actually no need for special permits or regulatory ordinances. “Even though the total point of that application is for people on the freeway to see it,” says Watts, “it’s inside a building, and technically the city doesn’t have any regulations on it.”
While Innovative Dental manages the content on the display, Watts says his company does offer in-house content management services and packages whenever they sell an interior or exterior board. “But in this regard, we got them going and showed them how to use it,” he says, “and then they took it from there.”
In addition to the outdoor pylon sign featuring a double-faced 8mm Watchfire display, Springfield Sign also fabricated and installed flat, cut-out lettering and reverse-lit LED channel letters on the building’s exterior at a couple of different elevations. Inside they installed accent wall signs and other such signage.
All in all, Watts says that the new Innovative Dental is an amazing facility. “Dr. Olson is well known for what he does. People fly in from the coasts to come to him,” he says. “Quite honestly it’s nothing like anything I had ever signed for a dentist. It’s probably more common in larger metropolitan areas, but this type of dental facility is a first for Southwest Missouri.”
Jeff Wooten has helmed Sign Builder Illustrated magazine as Editor-in-Chief for the past 23 years. Mr. Wooten continues to cover the breadth of sign-related topics, industry trends, and the magazine’s signature “How-To” features for our readers. He is also co-host of the regular SBI “On the Floor” Webinars and “Shop Talk” podcasts, which feature conversations with sign industry professionals and their insights. Mr. Wooten enjoys keeping SBi at the forefront of must-read and must-watch content for sign makers.