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History of Bronze Metal

Bronze has a long history of use and is one of the oldest tin alloys dating as far back as 4500BC. It took the place of stone tools, marking the start of the Bronze Age. Bronze was used for weapon making, ornaments, and fittings because it was easy to cast and mold into shapes. As time passed, the most popular use was in bronze statues.

The oldest known bronze statue is the Dancing Girl Bronze Statuette from around 2500BC. Other well-known bronze statues and sculptures include The Thinker by Rodin and Bronco Buster and The Spirit of Detroit by Frederic Remington. The Statue of Unity is the largest statue built out of bronze (eight million pounds) created to honor ‘Iron Man of India’ by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Bronze is not only used for statues and sculptures. 

Olympic bronze metals made their debut at the 1904 St. Louis, Missouri summer games used for the first time as the third-place award in sporting competitions. Modern-day use of bronze has grown use in small electric motors (springs, bushing bearings, and car gearbox bearings), ship propellers, musical instruments, and more.

Bronze is made of 85-95% copper and other metals, and the most common is tin. Considered a red metal, it can bring a rich aesthetic to architectural design. A luxurious material, bronze can carry a higher cost yet will stand the test of time because it is corrosion and weather-resistant, and highly durable.

Bronze in architecture and design

In architecture and design, bronze is used in various applications, including some stunning interior and exterior applications. Consistently used in interior design for a warm and glamorous look and feel, bronze is featured on high-profile exterior applications.

The recently completed Northeastern University’s six-story Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex featured curved bronze fins on the exterior façade. Bronze is on Brooklyn’s first 74-story supertall skyscraper. It took its design nod from the Dime Saving Bank at the base of the building with its opulent interior and exterior, with bronze accents, designed to resemble a neo-classical temple.

bronze metal
Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

Five years ago, Architectural Digest featured a how-to decorate with bronze in a winning fashion, and Sherwin Williams awarded bronze — Urbane Bronze — like the color of the year for 2021 to “tap into nature with a hue whose warm and comfortable breath down-to-earth tranquility.” Something we were all yearning for after a worldwide lockdown. It’s safe to say that bronze will continue to make its mark in architecture and design in various applications.

Bronze offers a warm, rich, and upgraded look compared to tother "cooler" metals, so we typically reserve it for the "front of house" area," said Liang Wu, senior associate and LEED AP at Kirksey Architecture in Houston.

Liang recalled his first extensive use of bronze on a project in 2014-2015, and he is still using it today in an active project. “We typically dress up elevator door frames, all doors and millwork hardware, light fixtures, and furniture accents using a bronze look in the front of the house,” Wu added.

Phosphor Bronze

According to the Copper Development Association, the addition of phosphorous — from 0.01 to 0.35% — increases the corrosion resistance and strength of bronze. In addition, it offers spring-like qualities, a high fatigue resistance, strength, and high wear resistance.

Phosphor bronze is used most in electrical components because of its great electrical conductivity. It is also applied where its other properties are ideal, including fasteners, springs, fuse clips, cable railing, and fittings.

Make a statement with bronze cable railing

Phosphor bronze cable offers a contemporary color option for design projects looking for an alternative to the traditional stainless-steel cable options. Ultra-tec recently introduced its new phosphor bronze cable railing and fitting line, a first of its kind.

The phosphor bronze cable railing is available in 1/8-inch diameter, in 1 x 19 strand cable. It is engineered to hold static loads without stretching, is relatively stiff, and is corrosion-resistant. Concealed receivers with beveled washers are also available for a seamless and modern design.

Ultra-tec’s phosphor bronze cable railing is a 2021 Architizer A+Product Awards Finalist in the New Materials category. Recognized as one of the world’s best products is a true testament to product viability.

The Future of Bronze

Warm metals like bronze will continue to be popular with designers well into 2022 and beyond. Bronze pairs well with marble, glass, and other metals colors like black. “We try not to mix cooler metal — such as stainless steel or aluminum — with bronze, but mixing bronze and black is acceptable,” said Wu. “We typically use bronze along with wood and marble (or porcelain with a stone look), and bronze is more of an accent even when we use larger sheets of it,” he added.

Asked if Wu would use bronze cable railings in a project, “I would consider using bronze cables, probably more towards a decorative fashion.”

Check out Ultra-tec’s new phosphor bronze cable and fitting for your next project.

bronze cable railing

The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy sits on the old Voelcker Dairy Farm in north-central San Antonio. The 330-acre natural park is well-known as an urban oasis featuring a nature center, outdoor classrooms, dog parks, play and workout areas, walking, hiking, biking trails, and a managed wildlife habitat. 

A masterplan community called Churchill Estates with moderately priced homes sits adjacent to the park. The property owner’s house was built on a bluff overlooking the park and is not included in the neighborhood homeowner association.

 

The current homeowner spotted a Texas Railing Systems truck at a Home Depot parking lot in Kerrville, about an hour northwest of San Antonio. “He took a picture of our truck door, and two years later, he called for us to provide the railing for his home,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems. 

The Texas Railing Systems crew also completed a tree top skywalk in Hardberger Park as part of a 150-foot land bridge for wildlife crossing over Wurzbach Parkway, connecting the two halves of the original dairy farm land.  

Uecker uses CR Laurence as the framework and Ultra-tec Invisiware® as part of their in-house product designs on most projects. His team installed both for this project. “The ease of use is great because it’s incorporated into our standard fabrications, and we understand the Invisiware system,” said Uecker.

Texas Railing Systems is a leading architectural, contemporary railing specialty company with more than one thousand projects throughout the Texas with long-standing commercial, residential, and manufacturing relationships, including their long-time supplier, Cable Art.    

Much of the country’s workforce is transitioning back to office spaces after more than a year of working from home, and workers’ expectations have changed. In response, business and commercial property owners, designers, and architects are now modifying their approach to better accommodate the preferences of their staff and tenants.

Even well-respected brands like Steelcase are acting on recent studies explaining the shifting outlook of employees. They’re now reimagining their offerings to ensure that companies create spaces where their staff can feel most comfortable and productive.

Here, we’re sharing four office trends that you’ll want to consider.

The Rise of Resimercial

According to the experts at Wayfair, Resimercial workplace design is here to stay. Employees expect a comfortable place to spend their workdays; for employers, creating these hospitable – even fun – spaces help to ensure happy, more engaged workers.

Millennials and Gen Z, now most of the nation’s work population, are leading with a “work any time, any place” mindset and want a workspace they can feel at home. Typical Resimercial contains breakout spaces with a style that involves a mix of textures and silhouettes, house plants, comfortable seating, durable upholstery, and natural fibers.

A Room with a View

Gone are (or should be) the days of working in an office made of four solid walls. Creating additional outdoor spaces, bringing the outside-in by integrating biophilic elements, or emphasizing daylighting by implementing walls made of windows, has the power to transform the work setting by reducing stress and enhancing the mood.

While windows certainly play a central role in helping to lighten up an environment, there are other ways to reimagine a conventional office space, create open areas and improve line of sight. Get inspired by checking out how Ultra-Tec cable railing was used to bring both an aesthetic design and an open, up-to-date feel to office and commercial spaces

Add Texture: Combine the Old with the New 

Incorporating various textures and textiles in the design or accessorizing of an office can add life and a sense of interest to a space. According to Parterre, blending old and new elements – including a mix of different metal finishes – can create an alternative style that delivers a warm feeling to what may have traditionally been a run-of-the-mill atmosphere.

Ultra-tec’s mix of finishes and accessories (including bronze) pair beautifully with wood, stone, and other natural materials that offer a diverse range of design options.

Opt for Sustainability 

The choices you make when planning your space matter to your team. According to Allwork and a survey by Fast Company, sustainability is an important criterion for today’s workforce. The cable railing from Ultra-Tec is environmentally friendly, there is little waste in the product, and it is 65% recyclable. Selecting alternatives that support the environment demonstrates to employees that you’re a company that cares.

Are you considering simple ways to update your commercial building designs in response to these workplace shifts? Contact us to see how our solutions can simplify and enhance your projects. 

Situated just north and slightly west of San Antonio, Texas — in the Texas Hill Country — sits the city of Boerne, home to Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort and Golf Course. Originally home to a cattle ranch, the land developed to house a resort, conference center, and 27 holes in the early 1980s. In 2011, the owners filed bankruptcy, opening the opportunity for The King of Country, George Strait, and his business partner to purchase the property.

 

The country music legend, a life-long resident of Texas and named Texan of the Year in 2018, and his business partner, Tom Cusick, “…fell hard for the property in 2011 because it had so much potential and embodied what the heart of Texas is all about,” said Strait in a release.

 

The 220-acre property, one of Texas’s most scenic and beautiful areas, went through some much-needed improvements, but that wasn’t an easy proposition. They faced drought conditions in 2012, eliminated the nine-hole course in 2013 to focus on making an 18-hole course viable, and then faced flood damage.

 

The resort and course underwent a $2 million restoration and debuted in 2015 as an affordable, family-friendly destination. In 2016, the 18-hole golf course was named “Most Improved Public Golf Course” by Golf Inc. Magazine. “What we looked at doing here was trying to bring the bones of a great golf course back into play,” Tripp Davis, golf course architect of Tapatio Springs Hill Country Golf Course.

 

As luck would have it, the clubhouse suffered a devastating fire in 2017, destroying the building entirely. Because the clubhouse was essential to the guest experience, the entire resort closed. Two years later, the new 47,000-square-foot clubhouse, designed by Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects of Dallas, opened.

The new design brings a modern twist on western décor and doesn’t stray too far from its Hill Country origins. An outdoor dining area added to the clubhouse redesign, and with it, the need for railing to seamlessly define the dining area and the landscape.

 

Ultra-tec cable and Invisiware fittings were installed for this project and contributed to the newer, more modern hill country design theme using sleek, nearly invisible hardware. A steel 2-inch square end post with ½-inch flat bar inline posts and a 2.5-inch x .5-inch flat bar top rail with a hardwood cap finish the railing project.

 

“Our company was the specified fabricator for the cable railing by the architectural design team,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems. “We installed one of our in-house design railings.”

 

Combining steel and hardwood materials makes a modern architectural statement in what would typically be a common usage area, offering unobstructed views. At the same time, guests can dine or stand at the wood cap railing to enjoy the area’s beauty.

 

Texas Railing Systems prefers Ultra-tec Invisiware cable and fittings and is their first choice for cable products, even incorporating Ultra-tec into their standard fabrications. Other projects by Texas Railing Systems using Ultra-tec products can be seen on their website: www.TexasRailingSystems.com.

Deep Texas Hill Country Roots

For more than 120 years, Moore’s Home Furnishing grew from a general store, a lumber store, to its current iteration of a furniture store. Early on, with deep roots in Texas Hill Country, they instilled solid and deep belief and business philosophies, including “unwavering outstanding customer service.” It has served them well.

The current location opened in 1975, and in 1996, Bill and Rachel Johnston purchased it. Bill is the great-great-grandson of Thomas Jasper Moore, who established the first store in 1892 (in Ingram). In 2018, celebrating 126 years in business, a ribbon-cutting of the newly renovated retail store, designed by Huser Construction Company, was unveiled. In addition to updating the store’s exterior, they redesigned the entry, office area, and design center.

As part of the remodel, cable railing was specified for the stairs and the loft area. The original cable specification, by another company, made it too costly to complete. Texas Railing Systems worked with the Huser Construction to value-engineer a system that would work with their budget. “The specified system was exceedingly over budget, and we stepped in with a value-engineered system that benefited the project,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems. 

Sleek and Modern Stainless Steel Installation

Texas Railing Systems recommended a stainless-steel framework using an inch and a half stainless steel posts, a hardwood top rail and handrails, and Ultra-tec Invisiware® 1/8-inch cable. The result is a sleek and modern update of the interior, opening up the store’s views.

“Ultra-tec’s Invisiware is our cable railing fitting preference; it is sleek and nearly invisible hardware,” said Mr. Uecker. “The hardware is easy to adjust and is our first choice go-to for cable products, and it’s incorporated into our standard fabrications.”

Texas Railing Systems is a leading architectural contemporary railing specialty company with more than one thousand projects throughout the Texas Hill Country. They have long-standing relationships in commercial, residential, and manufacturing, including their long-time supplier, Cable Art.

“We feel Ultra-tec is a superior product line for our cable business,” added Mr. Uecker.

Commercial Vertical Cable with Invisiware® Receivers

Law offices move to higher ground with impressive style

Haynes & Boone, LLP, one of Houston’s largest corporate law clients, recently moved to higher ground—occupying the 38th, 39th, and 40th floors in the LyondellBasell Tower Houston Center property, an urban, mixed-use office campus in the center of downtown. The client recently completed a multi-million-dollar renovation improvement, designed by Houston-based Kirksey Architecture and remodeled by HITT.

The public area located on the 40th floor consists of half reception and half office area. “We wanted to create a very welcoming hospitality-like space and used high-end finishes in warm and earth tones blending stone, antique bronze interior glazing frames and wall cladding, and rich velvet fabrics,” said Liang Wu, AIA, LEED AP, and senior associate at Kirksey Architecture. A lovely welcoming statement for visitors.

 

Interconnecting stairs make an entrance

The previous space, also three floors, featured an interconnecting stair system between floors, and the client wanted the same for the new space. Instead of using the existing stair in place, Kirksey Architecture designed new interconnecting stairs within the general office area. Local fabricator Hybrid Fab, known for its architectural metal design, fabrication, and installation expertise, fabricated the decorative metal around the stairs.

The stair treads were finished with a neutral color to blend seamlessly with the high-end look and feel of the space, using LVT (luxury vinyl tile) resembling a natural wood. The landings on the office floors — 38 and 39 — use more durable materials like porcelain tile with a marble pattern and LVT to endure day-to-day use, while the reception features natural wood consistent with the high-end finishes for the client’s guests.

Cable railing adds creative element

Taking a cue from the resimercial design trend — merging residential aesthetics into commercial spaces — to boost employee creativity and innovation, Kirksey showed the client images of inspiration during the design phase. One of the design elements, cable railings for the interconnected stair system, the client liked, and it became a focal point.

The drawings called for suspended vertical cables, and there are 55 cables on either side of the stairway. Kirksey engaged with Hybrid Fab to design the cable railings.

Blair Corporation, Hybrid Fab’s go-to for cable railing installations, sent a variety of Ultra-tec cable diameters to consider for the project. Hybrid Fab conducted 10-foot vertical tensioning testing with the cable. When you tension all 55 cables at 220 psi, that’s a lot of pulled weight and the area couldn’t span that much tension vertically.

“It was at that time we knew the cable would become a decorative element rather than a structural matter,” said Wu. “We used full height structural glass for the vertical span in conjunction with a stainless-steel guard rail for code compliance.”

 

Quality products offer unobstructed views

Jack Blair, owner of Blair Corporation, and his crew installed Ultra-tec cables using Invisiware® fittings and accessories for an impressive finish to complement the overall design aesthetics. “Ultra-tec offers a very consistent, high quality product and well thought out design,” said Blair. “Ultra-tec’s products are easy to work with and install.”

With sweeping views of the city from virtually all four sides of the office building, material choices mattered. The use of cable railings offers unobstructed views, and now employees of Haynes and Boone can enjoy from their office and while using the interconnecting stairs. An excellent office perk for all.

Aesthetically pleasing, cable railings offer an impressive installation option for a variety of commercial applications like rooftop decks, interior and exterior stairways, and stadiums where unobstructive views are ideal. Before installing cable railing, however, it’s important to understand how to install cable railing and the recommended framework for a successful and long-lasting installation.

Ideal Metal Frame Variations for Cable Railing

Metal frames and cable railing components, typically constructed using carbon steel or stainless steel, are commonly used in commercial applications for both interior and exterior. While carbon steel or stainless steel are the most common metal frame materials, other can be used. They need to be engineered to meet code requirements and other necessary considerations in the design of a sound cable railing system.

Carbon steel or stainless steel are recommended frames and cable railing components for commercial use because of their outstanding performance in use with cables. In choosing between carbon or stainless steel, it’s important to note the differences to determine what is best to use for your project.

Stainless Steel

Generally preferred for its corrosion resistance and low maintenance, stainless steel is specified typically for its aesthetic appeal for classic and modern designs. It is also resistant to high and low temperatures in most grades while maintaining its strength.

Carbon Steel

Harder and stronger than stainless, carbon steel is an excellent choice for more industrial use where appearance is not an issue. It is subject to corrosion if not coated and can tarnish or rust if not applied regularly. Carbon steel is  ideal for hidden areas and for cost-conscious projects.

Metal Railing Framing Construction

Properly tensioned cables will exert 225 pounds of tension each. A properly constructed metal framing and sturdy top rail is critical to prevent the end posts from bowing when the cables are tensioned. Three metal frame variations we recommend include:

Double End Post Construction 

double end post construction

This type of construction is strong, yet its elements are thin enough to have minimal visual obstruction created by the frame. This railing style uses an end post and two vertical members separated by stainless steel spacers. Intermediate posts are only one-inch thick, contributing to a seamless design.

Wall Structural Steel End Post Construction

End posts are slightly thicker for wall mounting; the intermediate posts can be smaller to minimize the frame’s bulkiness.

Pipe and Round Steel Tube Posts

Round tube used with a wall thickness at least comparable to schedule 80 or heavier pipe, or ¼-inch tube wall thickness. Top and bottom rails and intermediate posts constructed from schedule 40 pipe, or a minimum of 1/8-inch tube wall thickness.

Cable Railing Components

We recommend stainless steel cable railing components for exterior applications due to their low maintenance and longevity in extreme and fluctuating temperatures.

Stainless Steel Cable Brace

Since cable runs between terminating end posts can be quite long, it’s necessary to support the cable with intermediate posts or cable braces every 48-inches or less to prevent cable flexing beyond a 4-inch opening between cables (needed per the 4-inch sphere rule for guards). Cable braces come in two lengths, 36- or 42-inch, are ¼-inch by 1-inch and must weld to metal frames.

Stainless Steel Cable Brace Floor Plates

Used for mounting cable braces to the top or bottom rail or deck.

Stainless Steel Spacers

Stainless steel spacers, round, 1-inch in length, and are used to support thin-walled double end post design or allow for receiver extension in a stair system.

Detailed and downloadable drawings and material specifications are available.

Looking for information on how you can add cable railings to your project? View our inspiration or our products pages to learn more.

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