U. S. Steel developed the product in the 1930s and trademarked it as Cor-Ten; it was used primarily in railroad coal wagons. Corten became a go-to material for modernistic architecture and outdoor art in the 1950s and 1960s; it can be seen in such projects as the exoskeletal Ford Foundation Building in New York City and the 160-ton Picasso sculpture on Chicago’s Daley Plaza. After the Eero Saarinen-designed John Deere World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois, was completed in 1964, local observers approvingly compared its earthy color to newly plowed soil—high praise from the heartland. Corten is just as popular today—witness the facades of so many Southwestern-style food franchises.
The custom COR-TEN-steel barbecue shelf was mounted on a concrete wall, beside an herb planter and above an ipe-wood deck. A small amount of color added to the paving gives the space a slightly warmer tone, and low-maintenance, drought-tolerant succulents, grasses and restios surround the dining area.