Terra Cotta: Age – Old Style is New Again

SOURCE: Architectural Products
BY: Chuck Ross, contributing writer
DATE: December 2009, Exteriors Issue

Excerpt from article

Problems – And Solutions

In recent years, many early 20th century skyscrapers have begun shedding their terra cotta tile, as attachments and mortar have deteriorated. In Chicago, fears of pedestrian injury incited lawmakers to pass a cornice law that has led to terra cotta remove or expensive repairs at buildings throughout the city. Rain screen technology addresses such problems by removing the material from direct contact with building surfaces; instead, terra cotta tiles are suspended, curtain wall fashion, using clips, so wall surfaces remain ventilated and attachments remain secure.

Sheri Charter, AIA, LEED-AP, technical marketing director for Orchard Park, N.Y.-based Boston Valley Terra Cotta, points to Renzo Piano’s Debis Tower, constructed for Mercedes Benz in the early 1990’s in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz (for which Piano also created a master plan), as the first major modern installation of such a rain screen design. Today, the systems are making inroad into U.S. markets, thanks to a growing acceptance among building owners and code authorities.