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Designer Michael Bierut has details over at the Pentagram blog on how he and his team created the recently installed sign at The New York Times Building, the 52-story tower designed by Renzo Piano and FXFowle.

At 110 feet, the sign, located on the building's Eighth Ave. facade, is a 10,116-point version of the paper’s Fraktur font. It is comprised of 1,000 custom-designed pieces, each a painted extruded aluminum sleeve a little more than three inches in diameter, says Beirut.

Their biggest challenge?

“How do you add a block-long, 15-foot-tall blackletter logo to the front of a minimalist building without obstructing the view of the Times staffers working inside?”

By breaking it into 959 pieces, natch. Each letter was divided into narrow horizontal stripes, ranging in number from 26 (the “i” in “Times”) to 161 (the “Y” in “York”). Then each piece was transformed into a three-dimensional form that could be fitted over the building’s famed ceramic sunscreen rods.

2007_7_Times3.gifA “beak” on each form added an additional two inches of projection to enhance the sign’s street-level visibility. And boy is it visible!

Bierut also had to contend with, yes, zoning rules established in 1993 based on the design principles of architect Robert A.M. Stern and designer Tibor Kalman. The requirements mandated minimum size requirements – signs have to be large (based on ratios of the sign area to the overall elecation area) and applied (added to the building and not subtly integrated).

At least Times staffers aren’t forced to stomach the sign from their cubicles day in and day out.

Curbed has more signage views of the Times building. And The New Yorker’s Paul Goldberger wrote last year that the Times building “takes on a strange, thin blandness." The NY Sun’s James Gardner called it “quite refined.”

Photos courtesy of Pentagram