The Unseen is a backlit channel-letter sign affixed to the north facade of the building. At over fifty-five feet high running down the top seven floors of the building, the work mimics the look and presence of signage typical of high-density urban centres. However, the work doesn’t behave like a conventional sign; it doesn’t announce the name of the building nor declare its function. Stacked in a totem and read from top to bottom, the sign’s mirror-finished stainless steel letters will reflect the sky and surrounding neighborhood during the day; while at night the backlit letters will appear to float off the facade by a gentle, unobtrusive, neon glow.
Composed in the typeface “New Alphabet”, The Unseen looks abstract and unfamiliar, even challenging to read at first glance. Designed by WimCrouwelin 1967 for use with the first generation of (then rudimentary) computer technologies, New Alphabet today sees little, if any practical design application. Today, the font’s design might evoke a future once imagined or how that future now looks like a distant past. Viewed within the context of the area of Main and Keefer, The Unseen is a small monument to the perseverance of historical memory, and perhaps, to the many unseen labours that contributed to the making of today’s Chinatown.