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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(theses are two separate news clips)

CCB's 12-foot-tall letters removed from building

[email protected]
Apr 12, 2005 : 10:42 pm ET

DURHAM -- Late Sunday night, Harlan Laws Corp. removed the last of the 12-foot-tall CCB letters from the roof of the bank's landmark building downtown.

In the end, the much-anticipated removal, which signaled the end of a longtime Durham institution, was planned around the recent volatile weather, said firm president Steve Laws.

"It would have been ideal if it had been better weather conditions and a lot of people could have seen it, but I have to worry about safety more than anything else," said Laws, the son of company founder Harlan Laws, who installed the signs on the roof of the 270-foot-high building in 1964.

So when the winds calmed at night during the weekend, "We slid right in there and did it and didn't cause any commotion," Laws said.

Over the next 10 days, Harlan Laws will install and test Atlanta-based SunTrust's new signs in preparation for the official conversion to the new bank's systems and brand on April 25.

Then the Durham sign company will begin repairing the giant CCB letters. At least one set of letters will be preserved as a work of public art that's probably destined for the upcoming CCB Plaza, said Bill Kalkhof, president of Downtown Durham Inc.

"DDI's strong preference is that the letters end up in the plaza," he said. The plaza, funded with a $400,000 gift from Central Carolina Bank, will retain its name even after the corporate conversion is official, a SunTrust spokeswoman said.

SunTrust acquired CCB in October as part of its $7 billion merger with National Commerce Financial, CCB's parent company. NCF merged with CCB in 2000, but the local bank kept its brand at its Durham headquarters and branches.

On April 25, SunTrust also will unveil its new signs at the 13 former CCB locations in Durham, spokeswoman Eileen Sarro said.

But the signs are only outward manifestations of an internal change that has been occurring for months, she said. The company converted NCF's mortgage and brokerage operations to SunTrust's computer systems earlier this year, and the rest of the operations will be converted to SunTrust after the branches close on April 22.

The conversion could end 300 employees' tenure with the bank, as well. SunTrust said in December that it would eliminate about half of the 600 jobs at CCB's operations center off U.S. 70 after the banks converted to the combined accounting system. Those layoffs will be staggered, Sarro said Tuesday.

"Some positions will go away sooner rather than later," she said, but she couldn't provide more detail.

SunTrust also has said it will add at least 40 jobs in Durham, which will remain a regional headquarters for the bank. Executives here will oversee the firm's operations in the Carolinas.

Sign of the times

As part of the conversion, Laws and his workers will install 6-foot-tall letters spelling SunTrust on the north and south faces of the building and the bank's new sunburst logo on the east and west sides of the roof. The logo, which looks like a rising sun, will feature rays from 3 feet to 12 feet long.

Unlike the CCB letters, which were lit with neon crafted by Harlan Laws himself, the SunTrust sign will be illuminated using white light-emitting diodes. The high-tech, semiconductor-based products should help the bank cut the sign's maintenance and power bills by 35 percent to 40 percent, Steve Laws said.

The SunTrust signs' installation could begin as early as today, Laws said, depending on the weather. He plans to install one sign every two days or so until they're all up on the building. That should give him another three days to work out any electrical issues.

The installation won't be as tricky as the CCB sign's installation more than 40 years ago, but it also won't be simple. In 1964, workers took all the sign materials into the bank and lifted them in loads on top of an elevator. The elevator only goes as high as the 14th floor, so the workers had to hoist the materials the remaining three stories by hand, using a rope and pulleys.

This time, Harlan Laws has specialized motorized scaffolding equipment that will take the new letters up the side of the building. But because of the way the Hill Building, as the bank headquarters is officially known, is shaped, workers will have to transfer the sign to a different set of scaffolding on the 12th floor to take it to the top.

The CCB letters currently are being stored at the top of the building, Laws said, and after the company takes the first SunTrust sign up, he will bring down as many CCB letters as possible. Each of the 12 letters was made in four parts.

"We had to unbolt the sections," Laws said. "Otherwise, they'd be too large to take down on the scaffolding, much less an elevator."

Old sign, new era

While DDI and SunTrust had hoped to each take two sets of CCB letters, it turns out that four decades on the roof of a building have taken their toll, Kalkhof said. At this point, he's hoping Laws can piece together the sections to salvage at least two complete sets and maybe three. DDI would like to have one backup set of letters, but Kalkhof said he wasn't sure that would be possible.

But the veteran sign man is optimistic, despite the damage.

"Through the years they could have been struck by lightning, and they've certainly had their share of pigeons' nests in there," Laws said. "Surprisingly, they're in overall good shape."

He's confident he and his workers will be able to fix much of the damage to the letters. They'll also fill in the grooves made for the neon tubing and add an "anti-graffiti element," Kalkhof said.

Meanwhile, downtown architect John Warasila will place images of the letters in various spots on digital renderings of the CCB Plaza for the city and SunTrust to evaluate, Kalkhof said. He'll also develop a bracketing element in case the letters aren't stable on the ground by themselves.

Kalkhof, meanwhile, will ask the city for permission to put the letters in the plaza. He also plans to see whether the city would help bear the cost of the letters' brackets, if necessary. If the letters are going to become fixtures in the plaza, he hopes that decision will come in the next three or four months.

SunTrust is willing to work with the community regarding the letters' placement, Kalkhof said.

"They really do want these letters displayed as some kind of public art and reminder of the history of this company," he said.

Laws said his company was happy to partner with the city and DDI to preserve the image his father created four decades ago.

"I'd like to take people to see them, and the pride that my dad had in it will continue on," he said.

Wind hinders sign change to SunTrust

By GINNY SKALSKI : The Herald-Sun
[email protected]
Apr 15, 2005 : 10:23 pm ET

DURHAM -- Gusty winds spelled little but trouble Friday as people in the sign business worked to spell out the CCB building's new name.

The wind limited how many letters the Harlan Laws Corp. workers could hoist up the downtown Durham landmark, and scuttled plans to cover them with a tarp for an official unveiling.

The effort began Thursday, when workers raised six new letters and began fastening them to the black grid designed to display the bank's new name: SunTrust.

The work continued Friday, as crews worked on connecting the new letters to electrical power. More letters are expected to be installed today.

Meanwhile, the 12-foot "CCB" letters that were a hallmark of downtown's skyline for more than 40 years lay on the roof.

SunTrust acquired CCB in October after it merged with CCB's parent company, National Commerce Financial. The CCB sign stayed up after it merged with NCF, but SunTrust is eliminating the CCB brand and converting all branches to the SunTrust name.

"SunTrust" will be spelled out on the north and south sides of the building. A sun logo will be installed on the east and west sides in the next week or two.

The wind has been the primary controlling factor in the sign switch. It's unsafe to raise the letters when the wind is whipping too fast, so the sign installers have to work around it.

The wind also nixed an idea to have an official unveiling by covering the new letters with a tarp, then pulling it off.

"It's a great idea to have an unveiling, but there are some logistical and safety issues," said bank spokeswoman Eileen Sarro. "It's pretty dangerous because the tarp becomes a kite."

The building's Empire State Building-style stepped shape complicates the task of getting the SunTrust letters to the rooftop.

Motorized scaffolding equipment lifts the letters to the 12th floor. There, they are transferred to a different set of scaffolding for hoisting to the top.

From the roof of the 17-story building, the Bull City looks serene. The bustle of a weekday afternoon melts away and the entire region unfolds, from the Duke Chapel to the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant in Wake County.

From the ground, people who have grown accustomed to seeing the massive CCB sign are adjusting to its removal.

Scott Harmon, a founding member of the Arts and Business Coalition of Downtown, believes Bull City residents will get used to the new sign. His test for the new sign is not its appearance, but whether SunTrust is "as good a downtown neighbor as CCB."

If they play well with others and they support what we're doing downtown and they reach out to all of Durham community, then I think we'll end up feeling great about the sign," Harmon said.

The Hill Building, as the bank headquarters officially is known, has been a downtown landmark since it was completed in 1937. It was developed by the influential Hill family and is a piece of Durham history that won't change because of a new sign, said Reyn Bowman, head of the Durham Convention & Visitor's Bureau.

"The core of the bank will always be identified in Durham and with Durham no matter what brand name is on the top," Bowman said. "It hasn't always been called CCB."

Although SunTrust's acquisition of CCB is driving the sign change, it's also timely given efforts to revitalize downtown, Sarro said, adding, "This is just one more sign that things are changing for the better."

6,328 Posts
Sad to see the CCB sign removed, but a new chapter may begin for DT Durham with SunTrust's presence. Hopefully the new sign(s) will look cool and attractive even when seen from afar. Time to visit Durham for photos ;)

76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're rite about that!

Unfortunately, I do not have the finances to get cameras and other electronic gadgets as the rest of you guys...........but I can host a great tour. I very photogenic if you haven't noticed by now!

6,328 Posts
ejohnson said:
I very photogenic if you haven't noticed by now!
LOL!!! Yes, indeed... You have managed to sneak into many of my photos. How you did it I have no idea :jk:

Don't worry about taking photos, yourself. You know that between me and other Triangle forumers we may be able to post a nice Durham thread in the nearest future.
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