One of the most iconic parts of Bryant Park in Easton Park is the giant red arch that serves as a welcome on the south entrance to the Great Lawn. Designed by Petrified Design in 2017, the arch was created to be a joyful monument for the community back in the days when Easton Park was just getting started.
A frame for Bryant Park
Designer Gable Bostic has fond memories of working on the project. “We wanted to create something that would be iconic and striking,” Gable says. “The red paint definitely helped with that – when you saw it, you knew you were at Easton Park.” The team came up with the idea of a large arch that would frame the park without obstructing the view. “As you move around the arch, it changes,” Gable says. “The piece isn’t kinetic, but it feels like it is at different points in the day when the light hits it in different ways. There’s a play of light and dark.”
An engineering marvel
The piece has an ingenious design that is as functional as it is beautiful. The sculpture actually braces itself by combining a shallow arch and a large arch connected by pierced accordion-style panels. “If you look at it on the plans, it actually makes an X,” says Gable. “The twisted shape directs the lateral loads in opposite directions, so the arch doesn’t flap in the wind. It’s a neat trick to make it a focal point, but there’s also a lot of engineering in the piece too, if you break it down.”
The project wasn’t without its challenges. Because of the weight of the quarter-inch steel plate, the arch was built in six separate sections. “We didn’t have the right machinery, so we worked with a company out of San Antonio to laser cut the pieces,” Gable says. “By doing precision breaks on certain lines, we were able to bend the metal to create that accordion effect.” Once the sections were fabricated, they were welded together on site at Easton Park, as well as the benches at the bottom of the sculpture.
Cranes! Wind! Welds!
Fabricating a piece outdoors is always a bit unpredictable, and the scale of this piece made it especially demanding. The team used cranes to suspend the heavy steel pieces in the air while welding the seams in place. “It was definitely a difficult piece to install,” Gable says, “It was the middle of summer, so we were sweating, literally and figuratively. Each piece would be suspended and braced into place, and we had to block the wind to allow the welds to bond between each piece. We were working with about ⅛-inch of tolerance when we got to the final pieces in the middle, but when it came together, it was all worth it.”
Getting that Easton Park red
The team had originally wanted to powder coat the arch, but that must be done after all welds are complete. Instead, the team ended up fabricating the arch onsite and then having a crew come out to prime and paint the raw steel.
Meet at the arch
Today, the arch is still as delightful as it was when it was first installed. Depending on the time of day and year, the arch casts long shadows across Bryant Park. On any given day, you’re likely to see kids and dogs running beneath it, or in cooler months, folks having picnics in the nearby grass. “We always envisioned that it would be a gathering place for the community,” Gable says. “Where friends would say, ‘Let’s meet at the arch!’” We think it’s a success, Gable!
Come live at Easton Park, and you can have public art and loads of parks and trails right in your backyard, not to mention the best neighbors in Austin. Browse our builders or check out our events calendar to plan your next visit. We can’t wait to see you!