The new illuminated sign atop St. Vincent’s Medical Center can be seen from the highway. See drone footage here:

Fans of home improvement shows are likely familiar with the steps needed for an extreme makeover — something like the one that just wrapped in the lobby of St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

After more than a year of design, planning and construction, the project finished in December, creating a lighter, brighter space accented with rich finishes, tile floors and modern furniture.

Plans to align the space’s design with the Hartford HealthCare brand began in the winter of 2021 and construction took place in seven phases, each carefully organized and publicized to minimize the impact on patients, visitors and colleagues.

The biggest logistical challenge was closing the main entrance to renovate the front doors. For 12 weeks, patients and visitors were rerouted through the adjacent Cancer Center lobby. Additionally, as with any construction project, supply chain issue caused unexpected delays.

During each phase of construction, the historic artifacts that adorned the lobby, which are integral to the hospital’s long history and important to longtime colleagues, were removed and colleagues notified of their whereabouts. Some history was then integrated digitally into a giant 10- by 5-foot video wall and physical artifacts moved to the hallway leading to the chapel, to improve the customer experience as a whole.

Representatives from throughout the hospital participated in workgroups on patient access, front desk workflow and historical artifacts.

During weekly construction meetings led by Laura Flavell, regional director of physician and guest relations, each workgroup reported its progress.

Changing Bridgeport’s skyline

While the lobby project focused on branding details inside, another project was in the works to reach travelers on the highway. At the end of September, new signage was installed on St. Vincent’s rooftop. Standing more than 18 feet high and nearly 73 feet long, and illuminated at night, the sign is visible beyond the I-95/Route 8 corridor.

Made by Sign Pro Inc., the sign is mounted on two 20-foot metal angles and attached to a 72-foot steel frame. Installation was done in sets of six or seven letters at a time. First, multiple surveys by Sign Pro and the engineer on record ensured the new steel would be placed in the right spots on the roof to be structurally sound.

Then, the steel structure on which the letters are mounted was erected over two days. The letters were lifted by crane to the roof and, once in position, took two hours to install. On the fourth and final day, wiring of the letters was completed.

All of this was done by a crew of eight — two from Sign Pro, four from Berlin Steel and two from A Quick Pick Crane Company. Before installation, Sign Pro coordinated a city permit to have two police officers close down a portion of Hawley Avenue for the hydraulic crane. The crew also monitored the weather and wind to be sure everything was safe for installation. Even with such preparation, the crane had to be shut down on the first day due to the high winds.