DTE Energy to Install Giant Color-changing Signs Atop Detroit Headquarters

DTE Energy will install four giant color-changing signs on the top of its downtown Detroit headquarters at Bagley and Third streets on Saturday.
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DTE Energy sign
DTE will install four giant color-changing LED signs on the top of its downtown Detroit headquarters on Saturday. // Photo courtesy of DTE Energy

DTE Energy will install four giant color-changing signs on the top of its downtown Detroit headquarters at Bagley and Third streets on Saturday.

Phillips Sign and Lighting, based in Harrison Township, created and will install the signs. Each of the letters that form the signs are 12 feet tall and 30 inches deep. With the steel frames and letters combined, each sign is 22 feet long. Each letter rotates on its own axis 180 degrees and has about 1,200 LED modules.

In February, Phillips was tasked with creating the letters. Phillips engineers developed each set of four signs to be housed on giant tube steel frames that are strong enough to secure a tank. Including the framing supports, each set of letters weights 17,000 pounds.

“We received permission from the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino to have a video crew on their roof to film this incredible event,” says Ed Phillips, owner of Phillips. “At a height of 12 feet and depth of 30 inches, this was going to be a custom fabrication like no other.

“And, because the face of the letters is parallel with the face of the building, our team had to engineer a way to service these signs in the future. So, we created the very first channel letters that rotated on their own axis. It’s really going to be something to see.”

All four signs have to be hoisted up more than 300 feet to the rooftop with a Sikorsky S-64 Air Crane Helicopter, provided by Erickson.

“The S-64 helicopter will make four trips from the ground to the roof to raise these enormous signs,” Phillips says. “The helicopter will even have to refuel after lifting the first two signs to the roof. Each section of the sign will be lowered on to channels that will house the steel framed letters.

“Holes from the channels and frame will line up for massive bolts to hold the whole thing in place. Once secured, the control boxes of the signs will be connected to the building’s main power. Once this is accomplished, the sign is ready for lighting.”

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