AMTRAK’s Acela


Calori & Vanden-Eynden

Practice Area


AMTRAK/National Railroad Passenger Corporation


Project Vision

AMTRAK’s Acela Specialty Station Signage Program

The Acela signage breaks new ground in the branding arena. Rather than being logotype-driven, the program derives its branding strength from its sculptural forms. The sensuously curved “airfoil” shape became the stylistic nucleus of the signage program, which ranges from large pylons to smaller ceiling and wall mounted signs. The system is capable of implementation in various types of rail stations – large to small, historical to contemporary – along Acela’s 450-mile route from Washington, DC to Boston.

The sign forms and colors relate directly to the Acela brand identity. The look is fresh and streamlined just like the new Acela trains are fast, clean, and safe. As part of Amtrak’s new brand identity effort the signs are intended to reflect the level of service that warrants the highest quality. Since the sign system accompanies the premium Acela service and is used exclusively at Acela gates and platforms, the signs’ electronic displays are an “information upgrade” for passengers paying for a premium service.

LED displays, pumped-gas accent lighting (neon), and flashing indicator lamps were specified for long life, low maintenance, and lowest possible energy consumption. Paints with a ten-year durability and no-fade guarantee were specified. Pumped-gas lighting was used instead of fiber optic cable to lower energy costs and extend lamp life.

Project Details
This project was selected due to the leveraging of the Acela brand through the use of color and shapes. The system is extremely flexible in dealing with the complexity of locations while retaining a consistent look. The hierarchy of communication, starting with the brand down to the gate and schedule/destination, conveys the information in an easy to understand way that is relevant for the users. The system is clean and simple to understand and the use of LED signing allows for easy information changes.
Juror 1
Design Team

David Vanden-Eynden (Principal in Charge), Chris Calori, Denise Funaro, Jordan Marcus

Design Firm

Calori & Vanden-Eynden


Fisher Marantz Stone Lighting, Wallace Roberts & Todd Architects


Andco Industries