BOSTON VALLEY TERRA COTTA RECAPS FIFTH ANNUAL ARCHITECTURAL CERAMIC ASSEMBLIES WORKSHOP
September 15, 2020
Over 700 industry experts gathered virtually for a two-day virtual conference
BUFFALO, NY – Architects, Façade Engineers, Ceramic Artists, Designers, and Students gathered via webinar for the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) held Wednesday, August 12 and Thursday, August 13. Presented by Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, this year’s workshop took place online, versus previous years where all gathered in Buffalo. The workshop combined the models of academic research, artistic experimentation and industry expertise to explore the design of ceramic components for large-scale production. This year’s event, moderated by Omar Khan, Head of the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and co-organizer of the Architectural Ceramics Assemblies Workshop (ACAW), began with a keynote presentation from James von Klemperer, President and Design Principal of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, on Terra Cotta in Practice: From Detail to Megastructure.
While displaying a slide image of Buffalo’s Guaranty Building Klemperer states,
“Going to the geographic source of this conference, a very familiar image and well-known building takes us to Louis Sullivan’s thoughts about ornament and architecture. I think the word ornament today…we might use the word materiality, nostalgic, and sensitive. There’s a romanticism around it, but still the degree to which impulse of art and sculpture of crafting scrolls has come to be one with the building.”
Following von Klemperer was an enlightening presentation from Alfred University professor, Dr. William M. Carty on the Comparisons of Carbon Footprint, Environmental Impact, and Heat Storage. His research explores why ceramics are the least energy intensive and have the lowest environmental impact versus a material such as, metal, plastic, glass or even concrete. Dr. Carty continues to be one of the leading researchers on energy storage in ceramics, as discussed in his fifth year participating in the event.
The remainder of the day consisted of presentations from industry experts Roberto Bicchiarelli, Business Development Manager/Lead Concept Designer for Permasteelisa North America and Erik Verboon Director of Enclosure Engineering from the event’s sponsor, Walter P. Moore. Both experts discussed the evolution of terra cotta attachment systems to support the new wave of larger, complex panels. Senior Principal of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Susan Knack-Brown, tailored her presentation on alternative ways of attaching terra cotta to a Dome at the The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Boston Valley’s CEO, John Krouse presented on specialty louvers from Design Architect BKSK’s project, 688 Broadway. Krouse spoke about the massive 6”x18” one piece louvers Boston Valley produced to add a dynamic feature in front of the window wall on the façade. Krouse stated,
“these pieces probably weighed close to 220 lbs., and when you stack two on top of one another, we had to work with the façade engineers to support 500 lbs. of weight.”
Krouse went on to say that collaborating with the façade engineer, CDC the façade consultant, and installation contractor early in the process made this project come together smoothly.
To end the first day of the virtual conference, Laura Garófalo-Khan, Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, Johnathan Hopp, Assistant Professor at Alfred University, School of Art and Design and Timothy Noble, MArch student at SUNY Buffalo presented their research on Scripted Variable Low Mass Recyclable Slip-Casting Molds for Architectural Ceramics. The Haptek Lab, comprised of professors, Linda Zhang, Ryerson University School of Interior Design, Errol Willett, Syracuse University School of Art, Clare Olsen, Cal Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Jonathon Anderson, Ryerson University School of Design, Creative Technology Lab, Naomi Frangos, Cornell University, and Ryerson School of Interior Design research assistants, Amy Yan, Georgia Barrington, and Reese Young took listeners beyond the surface to explore The Behavior of Digital Ceramics.
To kick off the second day’s virtual conference, Robert Shibley, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at The University at Buffalo touched on the history and value of the partnership between Boston Valley and the School of Architecture and Planning.
Shibley stated, “This work began nine years ago when we began to explore the use of digital fabrication and its interface with the mold making process at BVTC. That partnership with the industry at Boston Valley has been enormously important academically for us and productive for the team at Boston Valley Terra Cotta.”
Leading Architects and Designers from the firms of Handel Architects, Perkins and Will, PLP Architects, KPF, LMN, Studio Gang, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Studios Architecture, Smith and Gill, and SOM displayed their prototype assemblies for high-performance buildings via virtual showroom. Team members worked over the course of a year, with Boston Valley’s team of engineers and crafts people, and with assistance from the faculty and students from the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.
The team’s research and projects were innovative, engaging and like nothing BVTC has witnessed in prior workshops.
Highlights from the team’s presentations include:
Handel Architects – Associates, Paul Lenke, Jonathan Morefield, and Stefan Di Leo, wanted to get involved in this year’s event to advance the sustainability aspects of the material. Their team was comprised of architects from their firm and engineers from DeSimone Consulting Engineers. Together they looked at a one, two and three-way tensile structure to make a façade system that reduces the connections to the building, by limited the number of custom components.
Perkins & Will – Based out of The Wrigley Building in Chicago, IL, designers, Angelica Paleczny, Juliette Zidek, Ted Hogan, Mario Romero were inspired by the history and relationship of terra cotta and water. Their team framed their design based on the question, “what are the limits to controlling water flow on a vertical façade system?” Their research delved further into learning how a terra cotta façade system can accept, control, harvest, and recycle rainwater.
PLP Architecture – PLP Partners, Daniel Moore and Wayne McKiernan from London, teamed up with Ceramic Artist, Christine Jetten, of Studio Christine Jetten, and Arup façade engineer, Alexis Harrison, to research the question, “how do we take best advantage of a special glaze?” Their findings were that a special glaze can play off the reflectivity of light. To do so, they researched ways to physically move tiles on the façade of a building.
KPF – Teammates, Marianne Kwok, Darina Zlateva, Chuqi Liu, Asli Oney of KPF, and Gustav Fagerstrom, Principal at Walter P. Moore, joined the AIA and RIBA initiative to develop the capabilities to design and deliver carbon neutral buildings by 2030. In support of this, their research involved the investigation of terra cotta and the lifecycle of the material when paired with mass timber.
LMN Architects – Architects, Alex Woodhouse, Plamena Milusheva, and Evgeniya Plotnikova worked with Walter P. Moore, and students from the University at Buffalo to develop new ideas of slip cast and rethinking the extrusion process. The team decided to further their research in the slip cast forming method to develop free standing ceramic modules.
Studio Gang – Project Leader, Maciej Kaczynski, and Designer Director, Claire Cahan, presented on behalf of their larger team, comprised of Studio Gang Principal, Jeanne Gang, Design Principal, Weston Walker, Shop designers, and Walter P Moore associates. The team was particularly interested in researching old techniques of how terra cotta was used structurally on arches and how that can be conveyed in construction today. The team also researched reduced energy costs in using and producing terra cotta.
SOM – Associates, Amy Garlock, Eric Pasche, and Rami Abou-Khalil presented their ideas about incorporating more historical ornamentation and design details into their work at the firm. Their design research involved looking at new ways to utilize the extrusions using Boston Valley’s 4 axis wire cutter.
PCP Architects, Studios Architecture – PCP teammates, Pedja Bilinac, Zhe Huang, and Craig Copeland teamed up with Graham Clegg of Studios Architecture and Walter P. Moore to present their design research from last year’s workshop on “Dynamic Terra Cotta” by extruded terra cotta. Their focus this year was to work and intervene with the material in the wet state, while using 3D forms to manipulate the shape of terra cotta fins.
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill – Architect, Anthony Viola, Design Technologist, Hiram Rodriguez, and Charles Portelli, of Thornton Tomasetti presented their work on behalf of their larger team. Together they focused their investigation for ACAW 2020 on how to augment terra cotta to meet the high-level performance criteria of exterior façade applications. Their vision fostered the idea of embedding or augmenting materials and processes to sustainably reduce embodied carbon, increase performance, and embed technology into the design of a polyvalent terra cotta cladding system.
Although, this year’s ACAWorkshop looked differently from previous workshops, the innovation presented in the team’s presentations were both extraordinary and sophisticated. Boston Valley Terra Cotta looks forward to further development on this year’s projects, as well as what is in store for ACAWorkshop 2021. There are also tentative plans to take ACAWorkshop 2020 exhibitions to Chicago and New York City, where participating teams will put together their live prototypes for display and present their findings to those that would like to attend.
If you are interested in participating in next year’s ACAW, contact the ACAW team here.