CorTen and Retail

The material known around the industry as Cor-Ten steel is a type of ‘weathering’ steel that doesn’t require painting or sealing. It is a group of steel alloys which were developed to form a stable rust-like appearance.



(Studio Farris)


I remember first seeing this rusty, warm material during my time working in the mountains of Colorado. The department of highways used a version of Cor-Ten on their road wall barriers and guardrails way at the top of mountain passes – as a low fuss but great wearing material. As you can also see, architects and designers alike LOVE it. It’s organic wear is so true and beautiful while you can also panelize it (since it’s a metal) and create amazing compositions.

It’s sometimes tricky to detail in urban context as the climate, rate of oxidation and final install treatment sometimes allows it to ‘stain’ the adjacent horizontal surfaces (concrete, block, etc…) but that shouldn’t deter it’s use, it’s an amazing material. I was recently in Raleigh, NC of all places and stumbled upon a great little modern rehab of a 60’s development. Apparently an older building was converted to a Starbucks and the design team and community collaborated on a rad modern box clad in Cor-Ten and blued steel! I was surprised and excited to see it – just have to share a couple snaps:



Always love seeing new concepts take off and this is a good one for sure – hats off to the team! #modernism


Cover image credit: (Jérémie Souteyrat)

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