Watchfire Signs Completes Las Vegas Fremont Street Renovation

The screen has a "light-trapping" design that allows the show to run during daylight hours, something that could not happen under the previous screen.

Danville, Illinois-based LED sign maker Watchfire Signs announces that it has completed the $30 million renovation of the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, on budget and ahead of schedule.

The renovation involved Watchfire installing the world’s largest single video screen. The company says the new digital canopy is 1,500′ long and is suspended 90′ above the pedestrian mall. The first update to the Fremont Street Experience in 14 years, Watchfire says it is seven times brighter and four times sharper than the previous display, and for the first time the show can run during the daytime.

Watchfire says it had to design an all-new product for the project that allowed the LED modules to be cut to fit the existing structure without impacting the information displayed. Perforations in each module also let daylight filter through and air circulate, critical for dispersing heat and illuminating the street below. The innovative “light-trapping” design allows content to run on the canopy during daylight hours-something that was impossible with the old design.

“We had to get very creative to develop a unique product that met all the distinctive needs for Fremont Street, including trimmable modules that fit the canopy’s shape and can handle the extreme desert conditions,” says Steve Harriott, president and CEO of Watchfire. “Interest in this product has been very high and we’re looking forward to using it for other projects.”

The scale of the project was the largest in Watchfire’s nearly 90-year history. It included manufacturing and shipping 130,000 square feet of digital signage. The canopy was manufactured in more than 67,000 modules containing 49 million LEDs. A total of 1,054 subframes containing 64 modules each were installed in phases, allowing Fremont Street to remain open during the upgrade. In all, it took 59 semi-trailer loads to bring all of the modules to the site of the installation.

The official unveiling of the new display will be on New Year’s Eve. Fremont Street attracts some 23 million visitors annually.

“The success of the Fremont Street project is proof of what Watchfire stands for. We are a team of innovators, combining new design with in-field excellence in service. This was an all-hands-on-deck project for Watchfire, and nearly every employee was involved in some way,” says Harriott.

He adds that the Watchfire production facility added optional overtime shifts to accommodate production, enabling experienced staff to build the project without the need to hire and train temporary workers. The entire project was completed without impacting the company’s existing sign industry customers.

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Tony Kindelspire

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