why is the golden gate bridge painted red

Why the International Orange Color? What is the Color Formula? to listen to Kevin Starr talk about Golden Gate Bridge Consulting Architect Irving Morrows selection of the International Orange color. When the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge was fabricated by Bethlehem Steel at its foundries in PA and NJ, the steel was coated with a red lead primer. As the bridge towers began to rise for the Golden Gate Bridge, consulting architect Irving F. Morrow was commuting to the construction site from his home in the East Bay via ferry. He became inspired by the red lead color. Morrow undertook color studies, which resulted in the specification of the unique Golden Gate Bridge International Orange because it blended well with the nearby hills and contrasted with the ocean and sky. Morrow recognized very clearly that the Bridge color was a very important influence on its appearance in relationship to its surroundings. As the Bridge stands today, the color blends perfectly with the changing season tints of the spans natural setting against the San Francisco skyline and the Marin hills. Morrow concluded, The effect of International Orange is as highly pleasing as it is unusual in the realm of engineering.
The color dubbed International Orange existed before the Bridge (and still exists) and is a color used in the aerospace industry to set things apart from their surroundings, similar to safety orange, but deeper and with a more reddish tone. You can see this, the other International Orange color here: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/International_orange The Golden Gate Bridge is painted Golden Gate Bridge International Orange which was selected by Consulting Architect Irving F. Morrow. In his April 1935 Report on Color and Lighting, Morrow defined the approach to the color section, Preliminary to discussion of particular colors, a decision must be made on a matter of policy is it desired to emphasize the bridge as an important feature of the landscape, or to make it as inconspicuous as possible.


The final color was inspired by studies undertaken by Morrow in cooperation with other architects, engineers, painters, sculptors, and others. Morrow also included black, grey, and aluminum in the studies, ruling each out for a range of reasons. Black would be unattractive and would reduce the scale of the bridge more than any other color. Proponents for the aluminum color reported that this color would give beauty as the beauty of a dirigible aircraft. Morrow rejected it as the towers would be deprived of substance and made tiny. Battleship grey and warm grey were studied. Warm grey was named as the distant second to orange vermillion. Italian American sculptor Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano submitted his comments to Morrow, I have been watching very closely the progress of the towers on the Golden Gate Bridge in its structural beauty its engineering and architectural simplicity and of course its color that moves and molds itself into the great beauty and contours of the hill let me hope that the color will remain the red terracotta because it adds to the structural grace and because it adds to the great beauty and the colorful symphony of the hillsand it is because of this structural simplicity that carries to you my message of admiration. The Golden Gate Bridge International Orange color is mixed to our requirements. The Bridge has maintained our formula for GGB International Orange through the years. Our requirements are in no way proprietary, anyone can formulate and use the color in fact we provide the color percentages on the website.


What passes for International Orange is going to vary by manufacturer or standard of which there are many. When purchasing paint for the Golden Gate Bridge, it is done through a competitive bidding process. Currently, the paint is supplied by Sherwin Williams and is made to match the GGB International Orange color formula. For compliance purposes we use ASTM D 2244 Standard Practice for Calculation of Color Tolerances and Color Differences from Instrumentally Measured Color Coordinates. When purchasing paint for the Golden Gate Bridge, it is done through a competitive bidding process. Currently, the paint is supplied by Sherwin Williams and is made to match the Bridge International Orange color formula. The closest off-the-shelf paint color that Sherwin Williams has available is Fireweed (color code SW 6328). Many people ask about the formula for the Bridges unique International Orange paint color. Paint stores can mix it with the following information: CMYK colors are: C= Cyan: 0%, M =Magenta: 69%, Y =Yellow: 100%, K = Black: 6%. PMS 173 (CYMK = 0%, 80%, 94%, 1%), PMS 174 (CYMK 8%, 85%, 100%, 34%) Pantone 180 (CYMK 19. 4%, 77. 9%, 79. 6%, 3. 6%) FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge is named for its radiant color. FACT: The Bridges official hue is not gold but International Orange. The Bridge is actually named for the Golden Gate Strait, the narrow entrance between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. The strait was named by explorer and U. S. Army officer John C. Frmont, who marveled at its beauty in 1846two years before the discovery of gold in California. In his memoirs, he wrote that he named it Chrysopolae (Golden Gate) because of its similarity to the harbor of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), dubbed Chrysoceras (Golden Horn).


FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge is painted end-to-end each year. FACT: While painting is considered a primary maintenance task, only routine touch-ups are performed in the course of a year. The Bridge was painted when it was originally built, and in 1965, a process was begun to replace the original lead-based paint with an inorganic zinc silicate primer and acrylic emulsion topcoat. In the 1980s, this paint was replaced by a water-borne inorganic zinc primer and an acrylic topcoat. In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the paint protects the Bridge from the salt that corrodes and rusts the steel components. FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge was universally beloved from the beginning. FACT: When the original design was revealed to the public in December 1922, the press derided Joseph Strauss symmetrical cantilever-suspension design as ugly. There were also those who opposed the idea of a Bridge to begin withincluding ferry operators and in famed photographer Ansel Adams and members of the Sierra Club, who thought a manmade structure would detract from the natural beauty of the Golden Gate. (source: FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world. FACT: The Bridge did hold this superlative title from 1937 to 1964when the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York opened to bump the Golden Gate from the top spot. The Golden Gate Bridges 4,200-foot-long main suspension span (the distance between the towers) now ranks 9th in the world in terms of length, with the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge of Japan topping the list at 6,529 feet. While the Golden Gate Bridge does not rank as the worlds widest, tallest, or most trafficked Bridge, it does hold claim to at least one lofty title: the most photographed span on the planet. (source:

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