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Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop: Bioclimatic Ceramic Systems

An architectural workshop is underway in Buffalo that has managed to attract acclaimed architects, engineers and ceramic artists from around the world.  The Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) is being hosted by Boston Valley Terra Cotta in partnership with University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning; Alfred University; Data Clay and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The workshop kicked off yesterday, and is scheduled to continue through Friday, August 12. 

Buffalo is a living workshop when it comes to architecture. Our historic building heritage is a stockpile of best case examples of some of the world’s finest architectural marvels. Many of the practices used to build these once state of the art buildings are still being studied today. And where better to study them than out in the field? How have the buildings stood the test of time, and what does their future behold? Not only do these workshops look at the past, they also examine innovative ceramic façade solutions of the future. 

In order to understand the future of ceramics, one must first grasp the past. For example, how the materials perform over time, how they can be retrofitted as they age while respecting preservation concerns, how weather impacts the materials, how they handle modernized climate control systems, how they can be adapted to accommodate new architectural and building trends, etc. Not to mention the creation of new sustainable cladding to replace outdated materials.


“While many architects design with industrially-produced ceramic components, they may have little material understanding of clay, and most artists and designers trained in ceramics may have few opportunities to explore the medium at a scale beyond the object,” says Bill Pottle, International Sales and Marketing Manager at Boston Valley Terra Cotta. “By attending this Workshop, they will have the opportunity to collaborate and deepen their understanding of and experience with the potential for terra cotta in the architectural setting.”

“The Western New York region offers both a historical connection to clay experimentation and a contemporary ceramics research hub, anchored between Boston Valley, the University at Buffalo and Alfred University,” says Omar Khan, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. “With its wealth of resources for terra cotta exploration, Buffalo is the perfect venue for this important Work-shop.”

As historic buildings all over the world reach the end of their lifespan, there are many challenges ahead.

What is the future of the buildings pertaining to cost, changing climates, thermal performance, pollution, design enhancements, etc? What does the next generation of architectural ceramic systems look like, and how will Buffalo continue to play a role in the advancement of the industry? Can turn-of-the-century terra cotta façades and historic brick masonry buildings help to divulge these answers? With the help of leading regional experts, futuristic building materials are not only being created and tested, they are also being applied. The world of preservation has never looked so bright. 

The workshops are being hosted between University at Buffalo’s historic Hayes Hall and and the production facilities at Boston Valley Terra Cotta. A number of events are also being held at site-specific locations, such as Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House Complex.

For a list of Workshop presenters, click here.

For the Workshop agenda, click here.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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