Frequently Asked Questions
Where did the Golden Gate Design & Furniture Company (GGDFC) get the Golden Gate Bridge steel?
In 1993, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District replaced 6,557 lineal feet of the west side pedestrian hand railing of the Golden Gate Bridge due to severe weathering. The contractors responsible for replacing the hand railing were also responsible for disposing the surplus steel. One option the contractors had was to sell the battered steel as scrap to a country that had a raw material shortage. There, the historic steel would be melted down and recycled. Another option was to cut the handrail into pieces and sell these as trinkets. However, this was a business that the contractors did not want to become involved in. Therefore, when Richard Bulan (founder of GGDFC) realized the market niche for furniture made from metal taken off the Golden Gate Bridge, he purchased the available pedestrian handrail from the contractor and GGDFC was born.
Are they constantly replacing Golden Gate Bridge steel?
There have only been three instances where a significant amount of material has been removed from the Golden Gate Bridge. In 1976, all of the suspension cable was removed and replaced due to corrosion. In 1982, the whole road deck was replaced due to salt air and moisture deterioration in the asphalt. Finally, in 1993, a significant portion of the pedestrian handrail, mostly on the western side facing the open ocean, was replaced due to the corrosion caused by the wind and salt air blowing in through the Golden Gate.
How did the founder (Richard Bulan) get the idea to start a furniture company?
One Sunday afternoon in 1994, a local San Francisco television station (KRON Ch 4) did a short news story titled “The Fate of the Golden Gate Bridge Steel”. The steel was originally placed on the bridge in 1937, and was removed in 1993 after 56 years of exposure to the harsh conditions of the Golden Gate. Having been born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area, Richard Bulan thought it would be great to have a headboard made from the Golden Gate Bridge steel. After calling the news station to attain the name of the contractor, Richard contacted the contractor about purchasing a section of the railing for his headboard. However, upon viewing the available steel, he realized the enormity of a single section. The handrail sections were 12½ feet long and weighed approximately 1000 pounds each. This was obviously something he could not just toss in the back of a pickup truck and attach to his bedframe. However, Richard was determined to own a piece of San Francisco history, so he hired a truck to ship the huge piece of handrail to his home. After spending a month cutting and grinding down the section of handrail, he had crafted not only one headboard (weighing in at 115 pounds) to attach to his bed, but three more just like it. When telling his story to friends, they expressed interest in purchasing such headboards for themselves. Therefore, after realizing the market for such a product, Richard Bulan started the Golden Gate Design & Furniture Company.
Do you leave the old paint on?
During the welding process, much of the old paint burns off. Therefore, the product is cleaned up after welding and given a fresh application of the same base and top coat that is used on the Golden Gate Bridge itself. This paint is the original International Orange, a color specially mixed for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. Furthermore, to stay consistent with the original look and feel of the handrail, the paint is applied using the same methods and techniques as currently utilized on the Golden Gate Bridge.
What kind of furniture do you make?
GGDFC designs have mainly been tables, along with a Desk Lamp design and the original Headboard design (available in CA King, Queen, and Full). All table designs are crafted using the Golden Gate Bridge handrail in the table base, with a ¾” thick clear glass table top. The Headboard design is crafted entirely from Golden Gate Bridge steel. Each piece of furniture is unique due to characteristic imperfections caused by the Golden Gate’s harsh weather, wind, and salt air. Therefore, to preserve and highlight these characteristic imperfections, each piece is given a fresh coat of International
Orange, the official color of the Golden Gate Bridge.
What will you do once you run out of material?
The steel removed in 1993 was originally placed on the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. Therefore, it took almost 60 years for the material to become available to work with. Since there is a finite supply of original Golden Gate Bridge steel, there will come a time when this stock is exhausted. Everyone always wonders what will become of the company once this supply of handrail is gone, and Richard Bulan likes to say, “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Where can I see your product?