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Questions to ask when planning a graphics project

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A checklist of questions you should ask before you get started.

  • How long might this fabric or fabric and print combination last?
  • Is there a warranty?
  • How are the awning/signage frames attached to the building?
  • How much will the frame and fabric combination weigh?
  • How is a weather seal maintained at the frame penetrations in the building facade?
  • Is there a redundancy of moisture protection designed into the system? [e.g., awning fabric caulked above the support railing that is also caulked at connection point.]
  • What kind of materials will the framing system be made of? Will these all be of the same material (e.g., aluminum) or will there be a combination? (e.g., mixture of aluminum and steel)
  • Is the structural design of the supports and support system being done by a structural engineer or by an experienced fabricator using tried-and-true standards?
  • Have all the applicable kinds of loads (up lift, snow, seismic, wind) been factored into the structural calculations?
  • Are the frame details based on standard design or is there custom work to be detailed?
  • Is the project a variation on standard designs [see PAMA definitions of standard awning types] or a more complex custom design?
  • Will the graphics portion of the job need to be on a flat surface or can it be on a curved surface?
  • If the graphics can be on a curved surface, will this affect the shape of the awning/signage design?
  • Does the project conform to any traditional historic district regulations? Or will it be more modern or contemporary?
  • If the project is within an historic district, are there restrictions on fabric choice (i.e., look, texture, color, illumination regulations)?

Paula Rees is president of Maestri in Seattle, a multi-disciplinary design firm involved in urban planning, environmental graphics and the marketing of real estate properties.

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