Lady Bird

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This stunning project could be considered sculpture but is actually a set of restrooms in the Lady Bird Lake park in Austin Texas.  The large COR-TEN steel pieces form a spiral in plan that responds to the park’s landscape and topography.  COR-TEN is a high-strength, low-alloy steel that has a high resistance to corrosion due to a reddish/orange/brown oxide that develops on its surface.  COR-TEN is considered a ‘weathering steel’ where the surface quickly oxidizes from the environment and forms a dense protective barrier against further corrosion to the material.  It never requires paint or any treatment due to the reddish/brown protective barrier.

I’ve always been a fan of COR-TEN steel but also find it has a limited place for use.  It’s an acquired taste to be able to appreciate the natural patina of a material.  Beauty of a material, to me, can often be found in its time-weathered, natural state — such as copper with its green/aqua patina. Many of us find charm, character and beauty in rust, peeling paint or weathered buildings.  Here COR-TEN’s weathered state is not out of neglect but out of function, protection and beauty.

Architects: Miro Rivera Architects
Location: Lady Bird Lake Trail, Austin, Texas
Photographs: Paul Finkel, Paul Bardagiy

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