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The way to American elite is through Hungarian wrought iron gates

The way to American elite is through Hungarian wrought iron gates

It was a Hungarian blacksmith who drafted and crafted the entrance gate of the American Yale University’s college, as reports. The craftsmen received an award of rank overseas, but it is still not known in Hungary.

The tender, organisation, and drafting was coordinated by Zoltán Kovács, who studied in Dunaújváros, the acropolis of iron and steel manufacture, and then was employed in casting and casting design. Afterwards, he worked for the French company Les Metalliers Champenois (LMC) in the US, the company which had renewed the New York Statue of Liberty’s torch. After a few years, he became the vice president of the company and turned into the committed believer of traditional metallurgy and continuous training. For this reason, he contacted the summer camp of the Hungarian Metallurgy Trade Guild where

he offered an airplane ticket, opportunity of studying for 1.5 years, and payment

for the handicraftsman who would work for him and train with him. To his surprise, years had passed by the time somebody applied. Szabolcs Németh and Gábor Szombathy started working with him under these conditions, and this is how the excellent team was formed.

In 2012, Zoltán Kovács left LMC and focussed on his own, already existing company, Covax Design.

Their customers were familiarised with Zoltán’s own works, and they received more requests for production, not only designing.

Soon the team won Yale’s tender for making their wrought-iron gates in a serious international competition. Zoltán Kovács explained on the phone how vital it was that both Hungarian handicraftsmen said yes to the request since this grand work could not have been done by many people in the industry. They gained great honour in the industry by crafting the gates, he added.


Szabolcs Németh and Gábor Szombathy travelled to New Jersey for the 14-month job after half a year of preparations. The workshop of 400 square metres ground space was established in Clifton. They processed almost 4 tons of iron and steel and used 2.5 tons of coke for keeping them hot. The workshop was well-equipped, which made their work more accessible.

They had a milling cutter, a lathe, a whip-saw and a single-belt sanding machine, but they had to make their own tools.

Besides decorations and patterns, they crafted structural elements, such as gate frames and hinges using traditional techniques. They built in hidden wires into each gate so that the entrance system, the safety system, and the magnetic lock system could be controlled.

A few weeks ago, the Hungarian blacksmiths received Stanford White Award in the category “Craftsmanship & Artisanship”.


 The Stanford White Award

The award of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art  (ICA&A) was established for the memory of Stanford White (1853-1906), the lead architect of the second half of the 19th century in New York. The Institute rewards the outstanding achievements in different categories relating to architecture.

The place, the style, and the contractor’s office they cooperated with all added to the significance of the work. All these raise its value, therefore

Zoltán Kovács dares say it is the century’s project in the blacksmithing industry.

The hardest part was winning the tender, but the judges esteemed the Hungarian blacksmiths’ decision of following Samuel Yellin’s style and technique both in their samples and their drafts. Yellin was one of the most famous blacksmiths in the US; his works can be found in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in the Washington Cathedral, and in the buildings of Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Yale.


The colleges’ plans were made by the most renowned architectural office in the US, Robert A.M. Stern. A book will be made of the project. It will contain pictures of the gate and the description of the process of planning and implementation.

“Thus we will get to the bookshelves of American architecture’s technical literature”- Zoltán Kovács claimed.

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