Forget subtlety. If you want your project to get noticed, you've got to think big. Lane Co. sure did. Its condo project in Atlanta isn't even completely built, but the building in mixed-use Atlantic Station already is the talk of the town, thanks to a bold signage and advertising campaign. A huge site wrap surrounds not only the entire construction site of this 323-unit building (called element) but also the 3,800-square-foot sales trailer. Featured are larger-than-life portraits of various characters, from a handsome businessman in a suit to a biker with a tattoo, along with the slogan: Are you in your element?

IT'S A WRAP: Want your project to really stand out? Try a giant wallscape or building wrap. These signs are virtually unlimited in size, often spanning beyond 10 stories. Sheet vinyl and vinyl mesh materials are the substrates most commonly used. Commerce Color offers custom sizes and shapes. "Site wraps have become the popular thing in the last year in Atlanta," says Gennifer Gogg, vice president of Condo Lane, the sales and marketing division of Atlanta-based Lane Co. "Before, you would never see site wraps in Atlanta. We like to think we were being innovative, but we also were following the lead of different places from Miami to Canada." Lane used matching signage to advertise on a dozen city buses as well as decorate the inside of the sales center.

Eye-catching on-site construction signage is becoming critical for companies everywhere as they try to sell condos a year or even two years before the project opens. Similar attention-grabbers are popping up on the growing number of high-rise urban adaptive-reuse projects. "Savvy developers realize the sky is the limit when it comes to getting their message to people on the streets and sidewalks below," says Tom Croghan, vice president of Commerce Color, a St. Louis-based large-format digital printing company. "Many developers and their creative marketing agents have been installing strategically placed banners, wallscapes, and building wrap visuals that reach a considerable distance." The company's wallscapes–gigantic signs–often stretch more than 10 stories, depending on the size of the building.

No matter where a community is located, the signage package must match the look and feel of the property, adds Ernest Dwight, president of SouthWood, a Charlotte, N.C.-based signage manufacturer. A complete signage package includes everything from roadside signs and elevator emergency instructions to pool rules and residential unit numbers. "Signage follows closely with architectural and interior design trends," he says. "For a property with a traditional feel, the signage needs to look that way. We use different kinds of materials for projects with a loft or industrial feel."

Whatever the signage style, a healthy dose of creativity never hurts. Lane's element condo community sold out in only 45 days, thanks in part to savvy signage. Now that's a good sign.

For more information, call Commerce Color at 888-781-7702 or visit

CHEAP RENT: Why buy when you can rent? Rent-A-Banner has an inventory of 3,000 banners and more than 1,000 slogans. Leasing, which starts at $34.99 a month for a 3-foot-by-10-foot banner, lets property owners frequently change their signage to attract traffic. The company also offers custom signs.

For more information, call Rent-A-Banner at 888-512-0167 or visit

WORRY-FREE: Reduce maintenance issues with Elements' engraved poly signage, which is UV-stabilized and will not fade, deteriorate, or absorb water, the company says. The product, available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, is perfect for leasing office signs, directional signs, pool signs, address plaques, and unit ID plaques.

For more information, call Elements at 800-223-2788 or visit

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Attract attention day or night with an internally illuminated sign. This one, fabricated from aluminum and acrylic, is approximately 22 feet tall and identifies both the property and the developer/manager. The company offers a wide array of signage design styles, materials, and manufacturing methods. For more information, call SouthWood at 800-727-6884 or visit

STORM TROOPER: Rain or shine, this sign is sure to keep its good looks. Weathertyte combines the look and feel of a decorative fabric with the weather-resistant properties of a high-performance composite vinyl substrate. The awnings can be customized with the property's name.

For more information, contact Cooley Sign & Awning Products at 800-992-0072 or visit

FIRST IMPRESSION: Stop traffic with roadside signs from FASTSIGNS. These signs are made from materials such as wood, post and panel, and high-density urethane. The company has a digital library of 65,000 stock photos that can be included on its range of signage products.

For more information, call FASTSIGNS at 800-827-7446 or visit

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For more information, call HydroPoint Data Systems at 800-362-8774 or visit

Q: What are the keys to designing an effective model unit?

A: For the past few years, Forrest-Perkins' portfolio of "built" model units has dwindled because the multifamily residential market has been so strong. In its place has grown a portfolio of "virtual" units. But now the trend is reversing.

The model unit, virtual or built, is the pivotal selling feature. It must sell on impact. It is the opportunity to capture design, lifestyle, and community.

A great furniture plan sets the stage. In vertical, urban communities, space multitasks. Niches are home offices; bedrooms are part-time gyms. The next step is defining design style. The style can be young and edgy for the young professional or sophisticated and upscale for the well-traveled. Then we introduce the color palette, which can be understated, theatrical, or playful.

Staging the lifestyle is the last step. For the wellness generation, the focus is the home spa. Depending on the community, the focus can be music, art, or theater. For all lifestyles, we feature technology with flat-screen TVs, computers, and TiVo.

–Paul Hodges and Barbara Silverman are senior associates of Forrest-Perkins, a Washington, D.C.-based luxury design and architecture firm.