BY: Mike Puma
DATE: August 26, 2011
See the original article at Buffalo Rising.com (expired link)
Boston Valley Terra Cotta – Local Expertise on Display Worldwide
Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) is one of only two remaining terra cotta manufacturers in the country largely because of the quality and craftsmanship of their work. As terra cotta fell out of favor around the Great Depression, many companies permanently closed their doors. Boston Valley Terra Cotta has endured, its expertise and strong reputation has allowed the firm to build an incredible portfolio of work on both restoration and new construction projects.
The company was originally founded in 1889 and was called Boston Valley Pottery which originally dealt with brick and clay pot manufacturing. In 1981, Boston Valley Terra Cotta was formed by the Krouse family who bought out Boston Valley Pottery, but continued the firm’s legacy. Shortly after the purchase, the newly-formed BVTC started on their first project, Buffalo’s Guaranty Building. The success of their work on Sullivan’s masterpiece launched their reputation to the international level.
Working out of their 170,000 sq. ft. facility in Orchard Park, the company continues to help restore many of America’s treasures and also produces materials that create unique new builds. Since their incorporation thirty years ago, the company has completed well over 1,500 projects in North America and around the world, as far away as Australia. It employes over 150 employees operating in two daily shifts.
Less than five percent of their projects are local, but they include iconic buildings such as Electric Tower, Liberty Building, Lafayette High School, Roycroft Power House, and Blessed Trinity Church on Leroy Avenue. About 65 percent of the company’s revenue comes from restoration work and the balance comes from installation in new construction.
The company has extensive experience working with National Register listed buildings which means meeting the demands of the highest levels of scrutiny by state and federal agencies. BVTC is chosen time and time again for their superior quality and their ability to accurately match colors which is oftentimes the biggest requirement for listed buildings. While they do not have a preservationist on staff, the company’s architects, engineers and artisans are knowledgeable in historic preservation.
“Terra cotta is coming back in a big way in construction,” said John Krouse, President and General Manager of BVTC. He went on to explain, “If a client can afford a glass building, they can afford terra cotta. If an architect designs a building entirely clad in glass, they need to know that they can potentially reduce the cost of the exterior envelope by using terra cotta in combination with glass. Terra cotta allows for more design flexibility and gives the architect the ability to create a signature building.”
Different types of forming methods are used to create the products. Pressing, casting or extrusion is used for various construction reasons whether structural or ornamental, and whether created from drawings or replicated from samples, site surveys or photographs, require use of a specific forming method to achieve the most success.
BVTC is a full-service company that works with both architects and contractors from project design through completion. They also assemble a budget for a building to illustrate how their materials may lessen the costs while also dramatically extending the lifespan of a building. With improvements in technology and techniques, the lifespan of new terra cotta has almost doubled from old methods, now lasting at least 200 years or more.
Besides custom work for restoration projects, the company has a line of panel rain screen systems, roof tile and architectural terra cotta products.