The multi-colored, dimensional sign spelling out ‘TORONTO’ has become one of the most photographed city icons – for locals and tourists alike.
The sign, which was originally planned to serve only as a temporary public art structure for the 2015 Pan Am Games, was constructed by Unit 11 Custom Staging, headed up by Don Loughlin. Best known for building the current “Hockey Night in Canada” set for Rogers Communications – Unit 11 has been involved in the staging of many of Toronto’s largest events.
Inspiration for the ‘TORONTO’ sign came from a similar installation at the 2011 Pan Am games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Olympic Rings displayed during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. It is comprised of three-dimensional letters in Azo Sans Bold font, each measuring about 3 x 3 m (10 x 10 ft), for a total sign area of 3 x 22 m (10 x 72 ft). Each letter consists of a steel frame, aluminum panel cladding and translucent polycarbonate front and rear faces.
To achieve the multi-colored, LED illumination, Unit 11 turned to Adrian Goldberg at Tad Lighting Services, with whom they had worked on many past projects – including the HNIC set. Goldberg, who had been working with Rosco to develop their new line of RoscoLED Tape products, decided that this would be an excellent project for Rosco’s VariColor RoscoLED Tape.
While the letters were being constructed in the Unit 11 shop, Goldberg’s team assembled the boards of VariColor RoscoLED Tape that would live inside. The brilliant, glowing design allowed for ample airspace inside the letters, which would help keep the emitters cool – even in the hot, humid Toronto summers.
Individual power supplies and DMX decoders were installed inside each letter and addressed individually, which allows color control of each letter. During the “Panamania” events of the 2015 games, the letters were programmed to change colors in sync with the fireworks spectacular that ended each night of both the Pan AM and the Para Pan Am Games. The city also used the ‘TORONTO’ as a sign of solidarity with Paris after the terror events of November 13th by turning the letters Blue White and Red – the colors of the French flag.
Since its installation in early July 2015, the VariColor RoscoLED Tape has tirelessly illuminated the iconic ‘TORONTO’ sign as it has become a source of pride for all Canadians, glowing and reflecting in the water and ice of Toronto’s City Hall Reflecting pool.