There was much discussion about what technology should be used to illuminate the new letters. We built full-size mock-ups in both neon and LED versions. Color changing LEDs were discussed as a way to support or commemorate special events and causes, lighting the signs in pink for breast cancer awareness month, for example. In the end, Georgia Tech decided to stick to tradition and build the new signs with white and gold neon, just as they have been for almost seventy years. The one nod to modern lighting technology was to replace the floodlights atop the letters. Tech Tower’s roof is now lighted by LEDs.
The 1949 installation was somewhat haphazard, with unique mounting hole placements on each elevation. We designed our replacement frames so that we could rapidly position mounting hardware on-site, after removing and measuring the signs for each face of the tower. This allowed us to use the existing mounting holes, rather than drill new penetrations in this historic building. The installation was made further challenging by the fact that Tech Tower is surrounded by old hardwoods. Positioning cranes around the building, so that there was a path through the branches to raise and position the signs, took some creative planning. In some cases, the crane was operated blind, with its movements directed by a remote observer via walkie-talkie. Despite these challenges, we were able to complete our installation ahead of schedule, without damaging either trees or building.
Since I began discussing our involvement in the letter replacement project, my Tech alumni friends have been asking about the fate of the old letters. The plan is to give the letters to the Alumni Association. They will likely be sold as part of a fund-raising initiative. It may now be possible to achieve the legendary goal of acquiring a T off of Tech Tower, without risking life, limb, expulsion or criminal prosecution. But act fast, supplies are extremely limited.