One in all Baltimore’s brightest lights has gone darkish and can stay that means for the subsequent 4 months. The enduring Domino Sugars signal, a large orange neon landmark that has loomed over the town’s Interior Harbor for seven a long time, was turned off March 1 so contractors can substitute it with an LED signal that may “mimic” the look of neon.
Domino Sugar, a subsidiary of ASR Group, is spending $2 million to exchange the unique signal, which was first illuminated on April 25, 1951. It plans to have the brand new signal able to activate for the Fourth of July.
“For practically 70 years, the Domino Sugars signal has lit the Baltimore skyline as an icon to locals, a beacon to vacationers, an inspiration to artists, and an emblem our refinery is prospering,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement.
“Battered by the weather for many years, the badly deteriorated metal letters and border have come to the tip of their helpful life. Nevertheless, as we method 100 years of operation in Baltimore, we’re renewing our dedication to the town by making certain it stays lit for generations to come back. “
The Domino refinery at 1100 Key Freeway in Baltimore dates from 1922 and is the nation’s largest for the reason that Domino plant in Brooklyn was razed in 2014. Measuring 70-feet-by-120 toes, the signal was initially fabricated by Artkraft Strauss of New York and is without doubt one of the largest neon indicators within the nation. Every letter is between 12-and-20 toes tall.
The work entails taking down the prevailing letters and border, repairing the body, and putting in new letters with state-of-the-art LED lighting supposed to copy the look of neon.
Baltimore’s Gable is the contractor, with skilled signal maker and restorer Norman James, identified domestically because the “Rembrandt of Retro Signage,” is working with firm proprietor Paul Gable on the venture.
Domino mentioned the work is important as a result of the signal is in dangerous form and may now not get replaced in piecemeal vogue, partially as a result of there aren’t many neon “benders” nonetheless in enterprise. The change to LEDs is predicted to avoid wasting 33,000 kWh per 12 months and forestall greater than 23 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted yearly.
“We’re going to nice lengths to make sure the signal retains the identical look, is extra sustainable, stays absolutely lit and is constructed to final one other 70 years,” the corporate mentioned.
The Domino signal is one in every of many growing older neon indicators across the nation which might be both being changed with LED lights or disappearing fully because the neon fails. Throughout the harbor in Baltimore, the Nationwide Aquarium changed the blue neon wave on its 1981 constructing by Cambridge Seven. In Philadelphia, the enormous PSFS neon signal was changed with an LED signal.
Some neon connoisseurs, together with signal maker Jan Nethen, insist that LEDs don’t have fairly the identical high quality as neon. Others say LED know-how has superior in recent times and now comes near replicating the look of neon, whereas consuming much less vitality. Engineers working on the Domino project pointed out that they positioned an LED fragment of the letter ‘g’ over its neon equivilant within the Domino Sugars signal as a take a look at and nobody seen.
“It’s an honor to do that job,” James told The Baltimore Sun. “Will probably be a superb signal and properly constructed. It has my blessing.”