Architectural Ceiling Design for American Girl New York

When American Girl wanted a unique architectural ceiling design for their new store in New York, they got in touch with Moss Retail and Environments who, in turn, contacted Jim Dawson at Synergy Sign and Graphics.  He consulted on the design and mounting for about six months and once the designs were approved, Jim got the go ahead to make this creation a reality.  Dawson fabricated the design out of large sheets of Precision Board HDU at his shop in Ohio, which were then broken down into smaller, shippable pieces that were sent to New York and then reassembled.  We talked to Jim to get some tips on the architectural applications of Precision Board as well as how they mounted the intricate designs on the ceiling.


“We used PBLT-18 in both 2 inch and 3 inch thicknesses,” said Dawson. “These shapes were cut from several large sheets of Precision Board from 4′ x 8′ up to 5′ x 10′,” he added.

Synergy was sent auto cad drawings of the ceiling and the individual profiles. They used Enroute Pro and nested everything to cut out the individual pieces. There was a “Part A” and “Part B” which resulted in the fabrication of a lot of small pieces- 60 of one part for example.

Dawson said, “For the large complicated petals, we cut the 10′ by 10’ designs in half so the pieces were smaller for shipping and then reassembled. Installers used Bondo to reattach them after shipping and then touched up the seams.

It was at this point that the individual pieces of Precision Board HDU had to be mounted to the ceiling.

When Moss and Synergy designed the pieces, they wanted an install method that would be completely hidden and wouldn’t need a ton of touch up in the field.  PBLT-30 Precision Board pucks were created that were attached to the ceiling via screws and zip toggles.  They routed corresponding pockets in the backs of the petals so the pucks could drop inside.  The petals were then glued to the ceiling using fast set epoxy.   It made for a completely hidden mounting system.

One small issue that Dawson had was finding a bit that they could use to cut the material. “We did a lot of testing because it’s hard to find bits long enough to cut 3 inch material. We did speeds and feeds calculations and it turned out that one of the cheapest bits we bought worked the best.”  Jim used a ½ inch diameter x 5” long four flute low-helix spiral bit from Hartlauer that was classified an end-mill. He spent $25 on it.

The entire project took three days of routing and 4 days of finishing / packing and was shipped in just short of 1 week.

We think that Jim Dawson and his team do some really excellent work. Synergy Sign & Graphics has a highly experienced staff whose backgrounds include graphic design, marketing, trade-show design, print media, branding, point of purchase design, fulfillment, and more. Check out their website or give them a call at (330) 878-7646 to see about your next project!

Chuck Miller, the President of Coastal Enterprises, was recently in New York and stopped in to the American Girl store to snap a photo of how the ceiling looks with a store full of happy customers.  Check it out!

Check out our Precision Board architectural ceiling design at the 1:27 mark in this video released by American Girl about their NYC grand opening.

You can get large sheet sizes of Precision Board HDU up to 5′ x 10′ in any increment from 1/2″ up to 24″.  Get a quote or request free samples today to see if Precision Board is right for you.  We’d love to hear from you!