In January 2019, MA Art was commissioned to design a sign to fill an 80-foot stretch of vacant scaffolding on top of a 12-story building in Brooklyn Heights. For nearly 50 years prior to the vacancy, the scaffolding contained an illuminated sign that beamed the word “WATCHTOWER” in giant red letters over the New York City skyline.
In addition to balancing the project within challenging cultural and commercial contexts, the client’s brief was very specific with respect to the new sign’s form due to a regulatory ruling regarding the right to erect a replacement after the WATCHTOWER sign was deinstalled in 2017. Specifically, the new sign could not exceed the size or illumination of the previous sign.
In red illuminated sans-serif block letters, with letterforms nearly identical to the former sign’s giant red channel-letters, the new word “WELCOME” now shines across the New York Harbor. By happy coincidence, the new sign was lit on November 27, 2019, exactly 50 years to the day that the WATCHTOWER sign was first switched on in 1969.
Image Credits: Will Femia, Field Condition