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Casting Relationships

Completed 2019
Thoughtbarn + Big Bismuth
JM Structural
Phillip Rogers

Casting Relationships is a sculptural work comprised of 49 concrete columns that wind through the landscape of the new Onion Creek Fire & EMS station.

Our artworks often utilize everyday materials in unexpected ways.  Here, the columns were formed with the use of fire-hose salvaged from Austin Fire Department's stock. Each year the Austin Fire department tests all the hoses in its fleet, discarding those that don’t pass the test.  We explored how these hoses might be re-purposed, engaging students at a nearby high school in a design workshop that brought out many playful ideas.

The final design employed over 300 feet of old 5” supply hose as concrete formwork to cast the columns, shaping them through the application of pressure and bracing. Varying pigment colors and quantities were added to each column, creating a gradient of yellow, red, and blue hues that reflect the color spectrum of both the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. 

In this way, Casting Relationships has become a meaningful artifact of the life-saving tools and processes of the first responders that share the station.  It also acts as a welcoming gesture to passers-by and a new landmark for the expanding Onion Creek community.


"The City of Austin Art in Public Places program had an incredibly positive experience working with Thoughtbarn on the recently completed Onion Creek Fire/EMS Station project. They are passionate, professional, and incredibly thoughtful in their approach to design. We would be excited to work with them again and highly recommend them to any and all parties."  Curt Gettman, Project Manager at City of Austin, Art in Public Places

"Thoughtbarn were selected through a competitive interview process and won the commission unanimously over several highly qualified artists.  They were a joy to work with both during design and installation.  I found them to be highly creative, responsive and technically proficient."  Craig Russell, Project Manager, City of Austin Public Works Department