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Sign of the Times

Quarles & Brady lifted to new heights: A helicopter lifts sections of 13-foot high letters into place on top of the 411 Building in Milwaukee. Police blocked off the area around the 30-story downtown office building early on March 4 while the letters were set into place.

After 100 years, Quarles & Brady made it to the top.

As a stipulation of the law firm’s 2005 lease renewal in the 411 E. Wisconsin Building, Quarles & Brady placed a pair of promotional signs on the roof of the 30-story structure.

Two freestanding signs, approximately 13 feet tall and 56 feet long, were hoisted by helicopter in sections on the morning of March 4.

Ann M. Murphy, managing partner of the Milwaukee office, said the signs represent the firm’s longstanding dedication to its home city.

“We’ve spent over a century in Milwaukee and the signs are a symbol of our commitment to downtown,” said Murphy.

Patterned after the firm’s corporate logo, the signs were positioned on the northeast and southwest sides. A special film allows the lettering to appear black during the day and illuminated at night.

The event was a historic undertaking, according to West Allis-based Poblocki Sign Company, which handled assembly and installation. It was the first time a helicopter had been used for a sign lift in the city, as there was not a temporary use crane constructed to reach the top of the 411 Building.

It is also the first signage ever placed atop the rhomboid-shaped building, which was completed in 1985.

“We took great care in diagramming a sign which was consistent with the architecture of the building,” said Murphy, who noted that project coordinators met with city officials throughout the process.

Police closed all four streets surrounding the site as workers coordinated the project from the ground and roof. Several spectators also gathered in an adjacent lot to observe the unusual show.

The massive undertaking was a culmination of the city’s second-largest law firm’s growth. Since Quarles & Brady moved into the 411 building in 1986, it has expanded from six to eight floors of office space occupied by more than 500 legal personnel.

“Milwaukee is our national headquarters and we’ve built on a great tradition here,” said Murphy, who estimated around 200 attorneys work out of the firm’s offices in the 411 Building.

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