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Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop Furthers Advancements in High Performance Facades 

Industry experts gather to address terra cotta’s potential in advanced manufacturing of bioclimatic structures and environments

From Monday, August 14 through Thursday, August 17, Boston Valley Terra Cotta and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning will be welcoming architects, engineers and ceramic artists from across the country and Europe to Buffalo. The second annual Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) deals with modern and innovative building façade solutions in ways that showcase the latest industry advancements via academic research and artistic experimentation.

Building upon last year’s bioclimatic focus, ACAW 2017 will explore designs that utilize ceramic’s material properties to consider environmental factors like light, heat, cold, wind and precipitation.

Thanks to institutions such as UB, and building material companies such as Boston Valley Terra Cotta (located in Buffalo), this city has become a hub of industry expertise. In this exciting day and age of Buffalo’s rebuilding, we are seeing firsthand large-scale applications for ceramic components (think Medical Campus).The upcoming workshop will feature:

  • Introduction to digital design
  • Traditional terra cotta manufacturing techniques
  • Architectural tours and daily lectures
  • Programming to stimulate the imagination on the potential of terra cotta

Many of Buffalo’s buildings were built using locally sourced terra cotta – a pliable, durable, adaptable and environmentally sound material. Over the years, Boston Valley Terra Cotta has taken the industrial application of the building material to an entirely different level.

Representatives from multinational engineering firms AECOM and Walter P. Moore, the architectural and design practice Morphosis, and educators from the UB Department of Architecture and Alfred University College will lead four teams to strategize ways to develop sustainable micro climates in and around buildings and address issues like energy mitigation, hybrid structural systems and high performance façade systems for shading, snow collecting, heat harvesting and air circulation.

“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, Director of Business Development at Boston Valley Terra Cotta. He added, “By attending the ACAWorkshop, designers will have the opportunity to collaborate and deepen their understanding of and experience with the potential for terra cotta in the architectural setting.”

The Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop will allow participants to interact with the industrial scale forming methods through a design challenge that will be hosted on UB’s campus and at Boston Valley Terra Cotta.

Returning speakers include Dr. William Carty, the John F. McMahon Professor and Chair of Ceramic Engineering at Alfred University and Neil Forrest, the internationally exhibiting ceramic artist and professor at NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design).

Throughout the program, attendees will have a chance to develop designs and prototypes as part of the design challenge. Events will also be held at sites that include the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House and the H.H. Richardson Campus, both of which have been renovated through great extremes.

For more information, see the event’s website, click here.

*Thursday’s final presentation of the team’s solutions at the Hotel Henry is open to architectural and ceramic professionals and will be followed by a keynote address and reception. Mic Patterson, Director of Strategic Development at Shuco USA, is the keynote speaker. His address, entitled “Material matters: Durability, obsolescence, adaptability and the embodied impacts of the building shell” will begin at 5:30pm.

For more information, visit

Lead image:

Ceramicist and glaze artist, Christine Jetten talking with fellow 2016 ACAW participants in the Boston Valley Glaze Lab.

2016 ACAWorkshop participants work on their design prototypes, slip casting and hand packing molds, at the University at Buffalo.

Jenny Sabin, Architectural Designer and Educator, Cornell University, modifies terra cotta extrusion panel in the clay room.

Just a few of the design prototypes created during the 2016 Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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