The color of urban renewal

Sometimes grey just doesn’t cut it. Or beige for that matter. Sometimes when a neighborhood needs an uplift, boldness is required, and color can be that integral component that awakens a place and makes people see it with new eyes.

Haas&Hahn, the working title of artistic duo Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, have been painting the favelas of Brazil since 2006. This piece, their second large painting in Vila Cruzeiro, was finished in 2008. Their site describes a bit about the process: “It was situated on a massive concrete structure, built to protect the hill from mudslides during the rainy season. It was painted together with local youth, who learned a craft, while earning money at the same time. The traditional Japanese design was made by master tattooist Rob Admiraal.”

More recently the pair completed work on the community of Santa Marta. Santa Marta is a favela right in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. The homes and school  that were chosen for the project site  are located right at the entrance to the neighborhood, making for a striking first impression. 
 Before the project, the homes were a ramschakle of angles and patches of colors.  Haas&Hahn used a “flexible concept of colourful rays” to create visual cohesion among the houses using a pattern of rays “which can easily be expanded [to neighboring buildings].” The design included the houses around the square, part of the street, and the local Samba school.

But if Rio de Janeiro is a bit too far to go for your colorful urban renewal, Haas&Hahn have a new project right here in the states. “Philly Painting is a neighborhood beautification project of unprecedented scale, set in North Philadelphia, around the Germantown and Lehigh Avenues. The goal is to mobilize the community to completely transform the commercial corridor and bring a new look to their neighborhood: A social and artistic experiment of urban acupuncture, beautification, and economic stimulus of unprecedented scale.” 
While the project has only just started, we think it has great potential to change how people see not only Germantown but urban renewal as a whole in the United States.

We are excited to check back with this project periodically to watch the progress!

– Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
– Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

The 75th Anniversary of “Golden” Gate Bridge

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge painted in  its custom vermillion color dubbed international orange. According to Wikipedia the iconic orange “is a color used in the aerospace industry to set things apart from their surroundings, similar to safety orange.”  This is precisely why the color was chosen.   When the pieces of the bridge arrived for construction they were already painted in the orange primer. Originally the Navy pushed to paint the bridge in yellow and black stripes for better visibility. But can you imagine the bridge looking like a giant bumblebee? In honor of our colorful local icon we wanted to share some of our favorite images of the Golden Gate Bridge this week.

Chris Saulit on Flickr took this long exposure beauty with the Marin Headlands a soft green behind the glowing orange of the bridge.

This image illustrates one of the primary reasons the bridge was painted international orange. As the official Golden Gate Bridge site tells us: The “Consulting Architect Irving Morrow selected the distinctive orange color because it blends well with the span’s natural setting as it is a warm color consistent with the warm colors of the land masses in the setting as distinct from the cool colors of the sky and sea. It also provides enhanced visibility for passing ships.”

 This shot was taken this April by Phil McGrew during one of San Francisco’s few and far between thunderstorms via Daily Mail
The Golden Gate Bridge Research Library site reveals a bit of the history of the color decision. “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 bridge would hardly have become the tourist sensation is it today if they had gone with inconspicuous gray. Look to the Bay Bridge, a far larger and perhaps more impressive engineering feat, it draws little attention in slate utilitarian grey.

“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 hills—and it is because of this structural simplicity that carries to you my message of admiration.”” Indeed.

Nathan Jones on Flickr took this beautiful shot that catches the bridge peaking through a thick fog bank.
If your love of the bridge has you inspired to paint a wall or even your whole house to match the  iconic color,  Sherwin Williams can help. Online we found the formula for the Bridge’s unique International Orange color. Paint stores can mix it with the following information: CMYK colors are: Cyan: 0%, Magenta: 69%, Yellow: 100%,  Black: 6%.” Currently the bridge is painted using a Sherwin Williams custom matching formula but for the closest off-the-shelf color they claim “Fireweed” is the best.
So here’s to 75 years of a color icon. May it have many more to come.
– Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
– Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio