In early 2014 Boston Valley Terra Cotta was put under contract to supply the terra cotta cladding materials for the new 12 story mixed-used building planned for the existing Delaware Court building site. Boston Valley began by documenting the existing terra cotta units that comprised the façade. Documentation was done utilizing two methods; first, individual photos and dimensions of blocks were taken by our site survey team to capture the profiles, unique return details, as well as current installation conditions.
Secondly, Boston Valley hired Foit Albert Associates to take a digital scan of the entire two story façade. This scan preserved infinite level of detail related to the overall assembly of the existing terra cotta and related structure. As anyone passing the building could see, the existing façade and individual units were in very rough shape, understandable considering their 90-plus years of service.
Over the decades, the terra cotta had been patched, painted, caulked and masonry joints occasionally sealed instead of grouted. The combined effects of these types of repairs and years of wear resulted in severely deteriorated or coated units that had lost ornate detailing and original finish and sheen, as well as loosely anchored blocks, particularly at the cornice level where the most water infiltration had occurred. Because of the state of the existing façade and the structural requirements for the tower that was designed, the decision was made to demolish the existing Delaware Court building and put up a new structure with completely remade terra cotta façade. This decision – combined with the survey and scan of the original structure – allowed the historic nature of the corner to be maintained while also aiding further redevelopment of this downtown site to ensure viable building use for years to come.
Boston Valley used information captured during digital documentation to remake many pieces exactly in kind or with slight modifications to allow for modern building codes. With the original façade demolished, the digital scans and photography were used by our drafting and sculpting teams throughout the process of fabrication. Individual blocks were modeled in 3D and radius parts carved for models on a 5 axis CNC machine to allow sculptors to focus on the ornate details. The addition of this 3D technology allowed Boston Valley to meet deadlines for delivery so material could be installed and the building occupied.
The new 250 Delaware building was occupied in November of 2015. All told Boston Valley supplied approximately 4,400 masonry blocks and 5,000 sunshade devices for the hotel floors and parking garage. The beauty of the finished project lies in the fact that the historic façade of the Delaware Court building has been preserved and rehabilitated using this ancient material which was fabricated under modern methodologies only 20 minutes south of the building site. The Delaware Court Building was originally home to architecture firms that designed or assisted with iconic Buffalo buildings such as City Hall, Kleinhans, and eighteen Buffalo public schools. The site has now been re-purposed and revitalized, the façade restored to good working order, and an additional entry made to the historic fabric that makes the city of Buffalo unique.