Boston Valley Terra Cotta: The Story

SOURCE: Buffalo Rising
BY: STEELE
DATE: 11.13.13
See the original article at Buffalo Rising

Boston Valley Terra Cotta: The Story

I am currently designing a project for which we are planning to use a terra cotta rain screen cladding system. It is a system that is durable that can be energy-efficient and quite attractive. For me as an architect it is a great tool because I can design a contemporary building which gives the warmth and richness of tone and hand tooling found in historic buildings but also gives the modern styling and technology that I like to see in a 21st century building. Terra cotta rain screen systems have been common in Europe for decades and are finally making their way to the United States. This lag time in bringing quality new building technology to the U.S is unfortunately a common occurrence. The U.S. construction industry and its market, in general, is unfortunately quite conservative and can be averse to new technology or products that may need longer amortization to pay for. Terra Cotta rain screen systems would fall into this category. Thankfully, a Buffalo area company, Boston Valley Terra Cotta is leading the way, big time, in bringing terra cotta rain screen technology the U.S.

Boston Valley Terra Cotta is the leading manufacturer of terra cotta rain screens in the U.S. (If memory serves me, they may even be the ONLY one in the U.S. with others simply importing from Europe and Asia.) My project will likely be clad with their products. The company, located in the Boston Hills south of Buffalo, is involved in some of the most prominent and cutting edge architectural projects in the country right now. I recently read a story about a new super slender apartment tower being planned in NYC which will use twisting fin-like terra cotta panels made by Boston Valley. I believe the UB school of Medicine will also be clad with their rain screen.

This rain screen business is impressive in itself but, Boston Valley is also the leading manufacturer of traditional terra cotta products for new buildings and restorations. Local buildings using Boston Valley traditional terra cotta include the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, the Guaranty Building, Buffalo City Hall, and the Electric Building downtown. flipping through their portfolio of work you find that they have been involved in some restoration of many of the country’s most important historic buildings. Their factory, which is more like an artist studio employing some of the finest artisans and sculptors in the country, is busy with activity making spectacular terra cotta in the way it has been done for over a century (along with a mix of today’s high technology).

The video linked here provides a look into the workings of this truly impressive company that all Western New Yorkers should be proud of.