Parking Lot Artistry

Have you ever drawn a 180-foot-long symbol on the surface of a parking lot – to be viewed from above? Well, neither had we…

Servus Credit Union was in the market to hire a crew to draw a 180-foot-long dollar sign in the parking lot of their building located near South Edmonton Common. Their reason for doing so was to attempt to break a Guinness World Record on Servus Circle Day, by having approximately 2000 people stand inside the shape of a dollar sign at the same time. Images would then be captured via drone flying above the action for a bird’s eye view. Participation in the event was open to the public and for a good cause. For more information, view the URL link at the bottom of this post.

Now, while drawing shapes on the blacktop may sound like an easy feat, accurately drawing the complex geometry of a dollar sign from the ground is actually quite an endeavor. At 180 feet long, it wasn’t easy to visualize the symbol from the ground, so we had to rely heavily on our computer skills and knowledge of descriptive geometry.

Using a computer program called AutoCAD by Autodesk and a satellite image from Google Maps, we overlaid an outline of a dollar sign onto the satellite image and brought it to a known scale. Bringing the symbol and image into the program at a scale allowed us to read “real world” distances from the program. Then – using AutoCAD – we established an origin point, and located the key points of the symbol’s geometry relative to that origin point with “Northings & Eastings” (or distances in the North/South direction from the origin point and distances in the East/West direction from the origin point). Examples of a couple key points include the start and end points of an arc.

Also, an extremely useful bit of information derived from the program, was the radii of the arcs used in the curves throughout the symbol. Having the radius of a segment of arc, as well as the arc’s end points, allowed us to draw that arc using chalk and a measuring tape. The only information missing from the black top was the center point of each of the arcs, which was pivotal in the designs construction. The center point of each arc was found by “swinging arcs” from each endpoint, which is a descriptive geometry technique (see images below).


An arc can be swung from both endpoints using the exact same radius for both. These temporary minor arcs (shown in red and green) will intersect, and by doing so reveal the location of the design arc’s center point. Once the design arc’s center point is established, the final arc of the same radius can be swung to complete the design curve. This technique was utilized throughout the design with excellent results!

Overall, the design was completed in just under a day with 2 crew members. Ongoing communication with the client saw the design applied to the parking lot in chalk instead of the more permanent option of paint. After completion, the design was flown over by a drone to ensure its accuracy and finally it was ready to break records!

Unfortunately, the event came to an early end as the ever-changing Albertan weather reared it’s ugly head. With winds beginning to gust around 80km/hr and lightening in the sky, the event was postponed until a later date. We at Little Creek Landscaping were very honoured to be a part of Servus’ big celebration day and wanted to take this opportunity to thank Servus Credit Union for this most unique opportunity!

Until next time, keep bringing your outdoor living dreams to life!