Posts tagged with "Boston Valley Terra Cotta":

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In Buffalo, fired-clay terra-cotta facade systems take a leap forward

For the third year in a row, manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (UB/a+p) in upstate New York hosted the Architectural Ceramics Assemblies Workshop (ACAW). The weeklong event is a gathering of architects, engineers, and artists and offers a fast-paced opportunity for attendees to get their hands dirty physically testing the capabilities of terra-cotta design. Other sponsors of the gathering include Western New York’s Alfred University, an institution with expertise in glass and ceramics, and Rigidized Metals Corporation, a producer of deep-textured metal for exterior and interior cladding, among other products. “Architects designing with industrially produced ceramic components may have little material understanding of clay for large-scale production, while most artists trained in ceramics may have few opportunities to explore the medium at a scale beyond the individual object,” said Bill Pottle, BVTC’s Director of Business Development and organizer of the gathering. “At ACAW, architects, engineers, and educators collaborate with designers and manufacturers in order to deepen their understanding of designing with architectural terra-cotta.” BVTC was founded in 1889 as Boston Valley Pottery, a brick and clay pot manufacturing facility located on the outskirts of Buffalo, New York. The Krouse family purchased the facility in 1981 and transformed it into a cutting-edge architectural terra-cotta factory with a global footprint. Currently, projects range from the restoration of New York’s Woolworth Building to the cladding of Morris Adjmi Architect’s 363 Broadway and Kohn Peterson Fox’s One Vanderbilt. Keynote speakers, many of them workshop attendees, included Anne Currier, a clay sculptor and professor; Dr. William M. Carty, a ceramics professor at Alfred University; Christine Jetten, a ceramics and glazing consultant; Gerd Hoenicke, Director of Pre-Construction Services at Schüco; Matthew Krissel, partner at KieranTimberlake; Craig Copeland, associate partner at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects; and Christopher Sharples, principal at SHoP Architects. This year, over 60 attendees participated in the workshop, which emphasized the role of pre-design and research at the early stages of a design project. Both the number of attendees and the overarching objectives of the workshop have evolved since its 2016 inauguration. The first event was largely a sandbox tutorial, featuring 20 attendees learning the basics of terra-cotta production. In its second year, ACAW and its 40 attendees focused on the bioclimatic function of terra-cotta in contemporary design and the retrofitting of structures. This year, building upon their experience at previous workshops, the attendees, divided into six teams, began researching and developing their prototypes in March. Designs were submitted to BVTC prior to the conference for prefabrication. Throughout the week, the teams received technical support from both BVTC and UB/a+p.
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Terra-cotta fins flank BKSK’s gatehouse to One Madison Park

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When creating the gatehouse to the CetraRuddy-designed One Madison Park on 23rd Street, BKSK partners and architects Harry Kendall and Joan Krevlin begged the question, “How do you design something that is as much about being a gateway as it as about being a building unto itself?”
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Architects BKSK Architects (design architect); CetraRuddy (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer Boston Valley Terra Cotta; Lend Lease (general contractor & construction manager)
  • Facade Consultants
    Vidaris
  • Location New York City
  • System Rain Screen System: Custom Glazed Terra Cotta Fins by Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Products Coordinated Metals Inc/ YKK AP Custom Storefront System; Dorma (entry doors); Glasswall (windows)
The task was to create a five-story building to house the entry lobby and two duplexes. The two firms worked as a team: BKSK was brought in by Related, who purchased the building after it was fully complete, with CetraRuddy acting as the architect of record and production architect for the residence. Kendall and Krevlin ultimately imagined the entry structure as a giant front door. “22nd Street is a beautifully scaled block that has lovely stone and terra-cotta buildings. We wanted to do two things—design a building that actually felt as much like a gateway as a building, and we wanted to do something that was respectful of the nicely textured and well-scaled block.” The team began to consider a contemporary material that would allow for such a combination and considered it a good opportunity to use terra-cotta because of its malleability. “We looked at the block and the body material of most of its buildings,” said Krevlin, the partner-in-charge on the project. “We were pulling out the more decorative elements and having that act as the whole facade.” Krevlin and Kendall wanted some shimmer and reflectivity to the material to catch the morning and Western light and knew that terra-cotta could be glazed to their specifications. The custom fins, manufactured by Boston Valley Terra Cotta, are comprised of three pieces: The pointed piece is extruded and has a joint with two other flat elements. The fins are then hung on an aluminum substrate that cantilevers off the building and attaches to the slabs so that they float in front of the glass. The fins were intentionally staggered to give the building rhythm, and a custom bronze and glass storefront with sliding glass doors sits behind them.
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Glass and terra-cotta rise at One Vanderbilt

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This soon-to-be neighbor of Grand Central Terminal was strongly influenced by its Midtown context. “From very early on, even the competition phase, we felt really strongly that it needed to have an element of masonry construction,” said Darina Zlateva, associate principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). “Obviously, this is a high-rise super tall building, and so how that translated to us was high-performance terra-cotta, which we included in our spandrel.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Permasteelisa North America, Boston Valley Terracotta, Guardian Industries
  • Architects Kohn Pedersen Fox
  • Facade Installer Permasteelisa North America; Tishman Construction (construction manager)
  • Facade Consultants Vidaris; Severud Associates (core/shell engineer); Permasteelisa (curtain wall engineer)
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion ongoing
  • System Glass and Terra Cotta Curtain Wall
  • Products Specific products cannot be disclosed at this time
The team chose to collaborate with Boston Valley Terracotta, and the two companies have been working on the glaze since 2013. Terra-cotta is included throughout the entire tower—including the podium—and there is a series of cuts at the base whose underside is entirely made up of terra-cotta. The spandrel zone has diagonal pieces of white terra-cotta that extend from the base to the very top of the tower. The curtain wall is double-glazed, double-fired terra-cotta, the structural system is extruded aluminum, and there is a high-performance glass on the vision—it’s an IGU with a Low-E coating on the number two surface, provided by Guardian. The gold metal fenestration that doubles up as a shading device is composed of back painted glass with a metallic finish, supplied by Permasteelisa. The building partition is four interlocking sloped masses, which provide air and light down to the street. “This is something that’s really important for the city of New York,” stated Zlateva, “so we worked with the Department of City Planning to make sure that our building angles complied with their light and air requirements.” At the base, those four tapered volumes get sliced in order to create a view corridor to Grand Central. This will mark the first time in a century that pedestrians will be able to see the corner of the terminal from 42nd Street.
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The future of ceramics is being developed in Buffalo, New York

In the countryside outside of Buffalo, New York, Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) has an impressive industrial terra-cotta operation—a potter’s studio on steroids, with dust and clay scattered around a relatively calm factory. Since 1996 “Rusty” Raymond Conners has spent his days by the window and among his plants, carving intricate designs in the capitals of columns and the faces of tiles. BVTC started in 1889 as a flower pot business, and has since morphed into one of the leading-edge facade manufacturers in the world, producing a range of baked-clay cladding products that are being used by everyone from Machado Silvetti to Morris Adjmi to Annabelle Selldorf. How did this transformation take place? In the last five years, something remarkable has happened. In 2011, Omar Khan, associate professor and chair of the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (UB/a+p), and Mitchell Bring, a researcher and adjunct professor, realized the potential in Boston Valley’s operation. Bring has been working with some former students of UB/a+p to incorporate the latest in digital documentation, design, and fabrication technologies to help BVTC remain at the forefront of the terra cotta industry. What started as a couple of interns is now a whole team of digital designers and fabricators. The digital documentation team uses 3D scan data to enhance more traditional techniques of reproducing historic buildings in preservation projects, such as Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, or New York’s Woolworth Building, which the company is working to restore at the moment. In order to make the process the most efficient, designers use CAD to rationalize the component parts that make up any large ceramic assembly. In a small corner of the factory stands a digital fabrication shop, now led by UB/a+p alum Peter Schmidt. They work with mesh editing software, a 5-axis CNC router, and a 5-axis CNC hot wire cutter to make models that are then translated into molds for the traditional methods such as hand pressing, ram pressing, or slip casting. Some worried that these new tools would cut into the work of the skilled craftspeople, such as the sculptors who hand-finish many of the more intricate pieces. However, once implemented, these artists found that they actually had more time to focus on the part that they really enjoy—sculpture—because many of the mundane tasks were cut out of the process. John Ruskin would be proud. In addition to making traditional techniques more efficient, BVTC and UB are working together to think about how digital technology can allow more experimentation with clay-based building systems. This was the basis for Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop, a week-long conference at UB/a+p, where architects, engineers, artists, and other leaders in the industry came together to share ideas and discuss what might be the future of clay and terra-cotta. The conference was a collaboration of Alfred State University, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, UB/a+p, and Data Clay, an art collective that is pushing the boundaries of digital craft and ceramics. Keynote speakers were Jason Oliver Vollen, architect and principal of High-Performance Buildings at AECOM in New York; Willam M. McCarthy, ceramics professor at Alfred State University; and Neil Forrest, ceramic artist and educator at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada. “While many architects design with industrially-produced ceramic components, they may have limited 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, who helped organize the gathering. “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.” Experiments in Clay What does clay have to offer? What characteristics are unique of clay, and what can it offer that other materials cannot? To explore these questions, the group of nearly 20 broke off into three groups, each with a balance of engineers, architects, artists, and researchers. Throughout the week in the top floor of UB/a+p, they combined their broad collective knowledge with computers, 3D printers, clay, and a range of drawing tools to experiment with clay. On the final day, the four groups presented the findings of their charettes and pin-ups. The first group, led by Adjmi, developed BIO CLAD, a panelized system that used the thermal capacities of terra-cotta to enhance the energy performance in residential applications. Terra-cotta panels—TerraClad by BVTC—would collect heat on the outside and run it through a heat exchanger, which would expel it on the inside via a series of radiant heating tubes. Group two presented “Bundled Baguette,” a set of experiments using the baguette, a basic, ceramic tube that is often used as a louver, could be aggregated in several arrangements including a parallel tumbleweed-like cluster. The third group set out to try new hybridized methods and constructions. They showed an idea that might use raw and fired clay at the same time, with the raw clay acting as a possible medium for humidity control. In another experiment from the week’s workshop, a classic, two-dimensional extrusion is made, with a 3D-printed form grafted on. This would not only be a new technique that hybridizes these tools, but it also would be the first time that a 3D printer would be used for an actual building component, and not just for prototypes or formwork. The last group was the most experimental, and they displayed a range of technical and artistic experiments, including a “mono-clay assembly,” or a complete, easy-to-produce wall module that relies only on clay bodies for performance. Another experiment used three different colors of clay to create a psychedelic extrusion. While these experiments were certainly fruitful, for the most part, they were simply conceptual ideas and the prototypes were almost entirely representational. The research—even when rooted in long-running experiments—is still a ways off. That is probably what makes this workshop so important, however. There were no expectations of the week other than to generated ideas, share research, and introduce these practitioners to the Boston Valley enterprise. The caliber of people was matched by the torrent of ideas, and it is only a positive for the future of ceramics in architecture. Future of Ceramics What is next for Buffalo? What are Boston Valley and University of Buffalo School of Architecture cooking up? To understand what is happening at the nexus of Buffalo’s industrial history, university research, state-of-the-art industry partnerships, and the specified knowledge of ceramics, it is important to start with Governor Cuomo and the Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR) Centers of Excellence. They have set up eleven of these centers around the state to foster collaboration between the academic research community and the business sector. As part of a larger initiative to make Buffalo a center for manufacturing again, they have established the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) at the University at Buffalo. There is an ongoing collaboration as part of the Buffalo Center for Excellence called SMART, or the Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies, which will join forces with the Department of Architecture and the Department of Engineering. There will be a second workshop—supported by Boston Valley—in the late summer of 2017, which will focus less on experimentation and more on advanced manufacturing. Thus the increased number of engineers in the second round, as well as a partnership with a company called BuiltWorld a leader in advanced manufacturing. “The ceramics world is not yet as advanced as far as the digital fabrication world, but that is where we are trying to push it. And Boston Valley is very supportive of this. They are probably the most important manufacturer in the US working with architectural ceramics.” Khan told AN.
"Last year's workshop was an open forum with all the participants owning their intellectual property. BVTC has the right to use that material for publications and advertisement. Moving forward to this year, intellectual property will be more focused as the teams are more deliberately constructed," Khan explained. "Hence the teams will own the intellectual property with Boston Valley and UB having the rights to publish the work unless otherwise requested by the teams. The University is much more formal. This is why industry collaboration normally happens around sponsored research grants, which have clear intellectual property rules with the University as the major beneficiary."
These partnerships are certainly going to push both the school and the industry to the edges of knowledge, and there will be plenty of money to accomplish whatever they can dream up. As with any intra-disciplinary partnership, it is important to remember what the goals are: to push the boundaries of the profession—in this case, ceramics—and to provide the students and faculty with opportunities for learning. If at any time it becomes too proprietary, it could jeopardize the integrity of the research and the value added for the students, the taxpayer, and the university. So far, so good.
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Terra-cotta facade bridges its historic surroundings and modern technology

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A new 34,000-square-foot residential building in New York's Noho neighborhood resonates with a landmarked district of highly crafted facades by echoing their predominantly low-rise scales, regular structural bay rhythms, and large windows. The 11-unit building is located on Bond Street—a two-block street that has become notable for its wave of contemporary architecture (Herzog & de Meuron's first residential project in the United States, as well as buildings by Deborah Berke Partners, and BKSK Architects, among others). Among these recent projects, 10 Bond Street, designed by New York-based Selldorf Architects, further adds to a context where historic and contemporary architecture coexist in complementary fashion. Sara Lopergolo, partner at Selldorf Architects, said that the project team was inspired by the deep russet colored brick of existing buildings adjacent to the project site on Lafayette Street. "Working on the proportions and the scale of the building was important to us. We wanted to find something very grounded in the neighborhood, but also present a contemporary face for this new building.” Selldorf Architects worked with Boston Valley Terra Cotta to design a rainscreen cladding of profiled panels in a custom glaze. The panels are trimmed with weathered steel, which rises beyond the facade to frame a rooftop terrace. On grade, the entry is marked with a mahogany ship-lapped siding.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Architects Selldorf Architects
  • Facade Installer Crowne Architectural Systems
  • Facade Consultants Frank Seta & Associates, LLC
  • Location New York City, NY
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System reinforced concrete with terra cotta rainscreen
  • Products Weathered steel from FacadeTek; Custom glazed terra cotta and standard Terraclad panels from Boston Valley; Exterior shades: Nysan-Hunter Douglas Windows: Peerless Storefront windows and corner windows: YKK; Masionette exterior and garage door: Mahogany ship-lapped siding with marine grade clear finish; Penthouse Trellis: Weathered steel structure with mahogany louvers
According to Lopergolo, the terra-cotta manufacturing process is akin to an “advanced Play-Doh machine,” allowing the production of highly specific custom shapes and colors. “We've been working with terra-cotta for a very long time and like to think of this as our material even though others are using it. What is so lovely about it is that its color is customizable, and that you can shape it anyway you like. The glaze creates a certain depth and character that you can't get out of other materials. The way the light catches it is very nice.” Bill Pottle, Boston Valley's international sales manager, said that the two companies have collaborated on a handful of projects. “Around 2000, the first terra-cotta rainscreen job came to the United States. Since then, the material has become very popular—it has grown from something rarely used by architects to a material that has made it into an everyday palette. 10 Bond Street is part of a second wave of terra-cotta jobs we are seeing that incorporate larger, more three-dimensional shaped pieces, not just flat rainscreen panels.” In the case of 10 Bond, the panels were manufactured around 36-inches long and weighed in at around 150 pounds each. The larger, more complex panels require more thought be put into the detailing of attachment clips. According to Boston Valley, often this results in modification of standard clip details, or in some cases the development of a one-off custom attachment detail. According to Pottle, most terra-cotta panels have a shrinkage rate of around seven percent, which is accommodated by digital software when producing dye geometry. "We use the same clay body mixtures and the same formulas so we can determine the shrinkage rate well before production." To help manage shrinkage throughout the process, the panels are constructed with a hollow core that incorporates webs to support a scalloped profile. The backs of the panels are flat to allow for the pieces to lay on a flat surface throughout the curing and glazing process. Full-size mock-ups allowed the architects to confirm a specific coloration and helped the project team to finalize custom attachment clip detailing. Lopergolo said one of the challenges with the weight of the panels was ensuring open joints between panels were dimensionally uniform. Pottle said the mock-up process is also an essential opportunity for the manufacturer to confirm quality control. Mock-ups allowed Boston Valley to see how the custom dyes were performing and helped ensure the extrusion process ran properly prior to the upcoming production phase. They will examine the extrusion process for quality control and confirm the rate of shrinkage of the pieces is accurate. A skewed street grid presented the design team with what Lopergolo called a "fun and challenging" floor plan layout exercise. A living room location at the southwest corner receives a wrap around corner window unit, and benefits from an automated exterior shading system, which is integrated into the buildings two primary facades—a southeastern and southwestern exposure. Occupants can override sensors that drive exterior shade motors. Selldorf Architects, who work on a range of project types—galleries, museums, housing—said its work with New York Landmarks Preservation Commission is especially significant. "We enjoy working with Landmarks—what they contribute is important for the city. With these condominium buildings, of course, the goal is to make nice apartments for our clients, but we also see this as an opportunity to give back to the city. We're very proud of this project—we'll still receive random emails from strangers saying they passed by the building and loved it—it is very sweet that people take the time to do that."
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Machado Silvetti’s modern addition to historically significant Ringling Estate

The new pavilion features 2750 individual terra cotta modules, weighing in at 60-70 pounds each.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, part of a historic 66-acre estate in Sarasota, Florida has received a striking new pavilion designed by Machado Silvetti to house new gallery and multi-purpose lecture space. Officially called the Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art, the project features a custom glazed sculptural terra cotta clad volume elevated off the ground, and attached to the museum’s West Wing galleries via glass bridge. The new 7500 sq. ft. pavilion establishes a new monumental entrance to the museum, and assists in the reorganization of site circulation and infrastructure systems. Teaming with Boston Valley Terra Cotta, the architects developed a cladding strategy to respond to specific environmental, programmatic, and budgetary criteria. The project is inspired by lush foliage and historic architectural ornamentation found within the Ringling estate. Craig Mutter, Principal at Machado Silvetti, says the gallery-based program of the new addition led the project team to considering a conventionally constructed box with very few windows, to reduce glare: “We put our design energies into creating a high performance building envelope.” Machado Silvetti teamed with Boston Valley Terra Cotta, an upstate New York-based architectural terra cotta manufacturer. “We were involved very early in the process," says Bill Pottle, Boston Valley International Sales Manager. "We went from hand sketches to a 3D digital format where we were able to go back and forth with the architect and talk about different sizes. This helped us rationalize and execute the project to fit into both manufacturing and budget parameters." The tiling of the facade was achieved with three primary shapes optimized to the rack size of the kilns utilized in the production of the modules – a 24” square, a 24” portal framing a window opening, and an 18” square. All together, with custom pieces at corners and end conditions, no more than 10 unique shapes were required. The repetitions allowed for efficiencies in the production process, which paired digital modeling and fabrication with hand craft. The modules were made one at a time, weighing between 60-70 pounds apiece. In total, 2750 three-dimensionally shaped ceramic modules were installed on the building. This manufacturing method became a significant constraint on the architectural design, said James Smokowski, Project Manager at Boston Valley. "The size limitation of the RAM drove a number of design changes from the architect.” Initially calling for a 60" x 60" tiled piece, the architects revamped their design to fit within the dimensional constraint of the kiln equipment. Rhino3D models were prototyped into shells using a 5-axis mill, which became the formwork for a hydraulically operated RAM press.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Architects Machado Silvetti
  • Facade Installer Key Glass (windows), Sun Tile (terra cotta)
  • Facade Consultants Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Stirling and Wilbur Engineering Group (structural engineering)
  • Location Sarasota, FL
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System custom terra cotta rainscreen on concrete frame with concrete block infill
  • Products custom terra cotta modules attached to modified Terraclad track from Boston Valley, YKK glass units
A sense of depth was established both by the chiseled three-dimensional form of the ceramic modules and a custom green glaze developed by Boston Valley. Due to the geometry of the modules, the glaze pools in the concavities creating a coating with variable depth. The terra cotta modules were installed on a modified version of Boston Valley’s standard Terraclad stainless steel track and clip system over a standard wall construction of concrete framework infilled with concrete block units. This detailing allowed for cost savings and assisted in the pre-qualification of terra cotta installers. Adjustments to the stock rainscreen system were made to create a consistent 3/8” gap around the full perimeter of each modules, ensuring individual pieces are able to be removed and replaced in the event of any damage. Windows were used sparingly on the facade, composed into clusters where interior program can accommodate some glare. These “clouds” of windows occur in the third floor meeting room along the north facade, and are distributed throughout the facade with careful attention to reducing glare within the gallery space. Despite having significant views to the picturesque Sarasota Bay, windows are used sparingly as accents – tiny portals which nearly disappear into the tiling of the facade. Rodolfo Machado, Principal at Machado Silvetti, says this compositional decision was deliberate: "Perhaps the most effective windows are in the third floor conference room. Here, small windows carefully framing the landscape are quite effective – almost like looking at a painting. In this case, fewer smaller windows work better." Through this modern addition to the Ringling Museum campus, the architects were able to solve programmatic day to day operational issues at The Ringling, which was a big win says Craig Mutter, Principal at Machado Silvetti: “We are particularly proud of this project because our mission was to create a striking addition to this area of the museum that would be a beacon to the visitors on the campus. But we were also able to solve day to day problems the museum was facing, from way finding to operations, to conservation lab connections. We feel this project will have a very big long term impact for the Museum."
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Product> Wrap It Up: Six Creative Cladding Materials

Thanks in large part to advances in protective coatings and insulation products, buildings big and small can be clad in a variety of materials; when creatively sheathed, even a basic box can achieve an anything-but-ordinary appearance. Thermocromex (at top) Thermocromex This limestone plaster ultra-high-performance cladding is a technically innovative reformulation that can be applied to virtually any substrate, including CMU, frame/sheathing, tilt wall, poured-in-place concrete, and lightweight blocks/cement. Available in custom colors, Thermocromex delivers a vibrant and permanent finish that requires no other coloring or topcoat. The alkali- and UV-resistant pigments will not fade over time, and the finish is both weatherproof and breathable. Almost no maintenance is required to enjoy the original appearance, year after year. Features a 20-year material performance warranty. Koda XT 3form A product line developed specifically for exterior projects, Koda XT offers color, durability, and design freedom for the most extreme environments and applications. These panels exhibit the highest performance of any engineered resin panels. The material has the added benefits of being constructed from polycarbonate, which is both environmentally responsible and high-performing. ProdEX Prodema With an outer film of PVDF, ProdEX wood panels have no need for regular maintenance. The PVDF film is also anti-graffiti and non-stick, preventing organic matter from accumulating on the panel's surface and reducing the build-up of dust and dirt caused by pollution. ProdEX is a suitable cladding material for ventilated façades, offering protection from rain, sunlight, and external temperature changes. Insulated Metal Panels Metl-Span These state-of-the-art insulated metal panels perform reliably, are aesthetically pleasing, and come with a proven sustainability track record. Cost-effective and energy-efficient, they are easy to install, ensuring a schedule-satisfying build-speed. TerraPreCast Boston Valley Terra Cotta For decades, architectural designs have involved embedding a facing material in precast concrete panels. TerraPreCast is now available as a finishing material for precast concrete. A minimum 30mm solid terra cotta veneer as well as units with custom profiles can be embedded in large precast units. The dovetail profile on the backside of the veneer provides additional surface area for the concrete to adhere to the terra cotta, ensuring a high-strength bond between the two products. This system is ideal for conditions requiring the strength and durability of precast concrete construction, but desiring the myriad of options available in both profile and finish offered by terra cotta. TerraPreCast panels are available in 2-inch height increments from 6 inches to 24 inches. The maximum length for the panel is 60 inches. Custom product available. Metalwërks Arcwall DBV Rainscreen Metalwërks This drained, back-ventilated (DBV) design provides an interesting exterior appearance while protecting the building’s primary air/water seals from the elements. The wall system incorporates exterior moisture resistant applied insulation, engineered furring, and perimeter flashings all outboard of the primary building air barrier. A unique fabrication capability includes a back-scored technique to V-groove the 0.125-inch-thick aluminum plate material down to .040-inch-thick at the fold lines. This method allows the designer to incorporate tighter bend lines, which increases the crispness of the joints and panel edges. The open vertical reveals joint are gasketed to minimize water penetration between the custom panel end-caps and open horizontal joints. The rainscreen system, with its variable patterns, casts numerous shade and light patterns as light changes throughout the day, and the anodized finish creates additional reflections to enhance the effect.
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Boston Valley Brings a 100-Year-Old Dome into the Digital Age

Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored the Alberta Legislature Building's century-old dome using a combination of digital and traditional techniques.

Restoring a century-old terra cotta dome without blueprints would be a painstaking process in any conditions. Add long snowy winters and an aggressive freeze/thaw cycle, and things start to get really interesting. For their reconstruction of the Alberta Legislature Building dome, the craftsmen at Boston Valley Terra Cotta had a lot to think about, from developing a formula for a clay that would stand up to Edmonton’s swings in temperatures, to organizing just-in-time delivery of 18,841 components. Their answer? Technology. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Omar Khan at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Orchard Park, New York, firm’s employees are as comfortable with computers as they are with hand tools. On site in Edmonton, technicians took a 3D laser scan of the dome prior to disassembly. They also tagged specific terra cotta pieces to send to New York as samples. These pieces, which ranged from simple blocks to gargoyles and capitals, went straight to the in-house lab for scanning into Rhino. The drafting department combined the overall scan with the individual scans to create a total picture of the dome’s surface geometry and depth. The individual scans, in addition, were critical to making the approximately 508 unique molds employed on the project. To compensate for the eight percent shrinkage clay goes through during drying and firing, the craftsmen at Boston Valley used to have to perform a series of calculations before building a mold. “[Now we] take the scan data and increase by eight percent by simply doing a mouse click,” said Boston Valley national sales manager Bill Pottle. In some cases, the craftsmen converted the scan data into a tool path for the five-axis CNC machine used to make the molds. “We’re doing that more and more in some of our mold making. It also allows us to ensure that we’re recreating them to the most exacting tolerance and dimensions that we can,” said Pottle. The data from the 3D scans also helped the craftsmen replicate the dome’s complicated curvature. “Between the scanned pieces and the scan of the dome itself, we were able to figure out some very complex geometry where each of these individual pieces had the correct shape to them,” said Pottle.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Architects Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Allan Merrick Jeffers, Richard Blakey
  • Location Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Date of Completion November 2013
  • System terra cotta rain screen
For sustainability and durability, the designers at Boston Valley reconfigured the dome as a rain screen system, with terra cotta components attached to a stainless steel frame. But while the rain screen boosts environmental performance, it also demands incredible precision. Again, the 3D models proved invaluable. “The models allowed these tight tolerances. [We] could explode it and make sure everything was connected. It would have been impossible without that level of sophisticated software,” said president John Krouse. The Alberta Legislature Building dome restoration is the first major project on which Boston Valley has unleashed its full array of digital design tools. Krouse hopes its success—he estimates that the digital tools speeded fabrication by 200 percent—will send a message to designers interested in experimenting with terra cotta: “What we’re trying to say to the architecture and design community globally is don’t be afraid to start designing domes with complex geometry, because we’re equipped with all this technology. It doesn’t have to be a square box.”
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Fallen Angels Rescued Parametrically

Fabrikator

Classically trained sculptors breath new life into four 20-foot angels with the help of Rhino.

When Old Structures Engineering engaged Boston Valley Terra Cotta in the restoration of the 1896 vintage Beaux-Arts building at 150 Nassau Street in New York—one of the city’s original steel frame structures—the four decorative angelic figures, or seraphs, that adorned the corners of the uppermost story were in serious decay. “Up close, they were in an appalling state,” said Andrew Evans, engineering project manager. “The biggest issue we had with the angels was understanding what happened with the originals.” The seraphs were carved from stone by Spanish immigrant Ferdinand Miranda in 1895 and had suffered years of exposure and improper maintenance. By the time the facade was up for rehabilitation, the angels were haphazardly strapped to the building with steel bands and supported with bricks. Their state was such that repairs would not suffice and Boston Valley’s artisans began the task of recreating the 20-foot-tall Amazonian figures.
  • Fabricators Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Designer Ferdinand Miranda
  • Location Buffalo, New York
  • Date of Completion April 2013
  • Material glazed terra cotta, plywood
  • Process Rhino, Zbrush, Agisoft Photoscan, laser cutting, hand sculpting
It was the company’s first foray into parametric modeling. Like Dorothy stepping from sepia tone into Technicolor, the sculptors at Boston Valley Terra Cotta proclaimed, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” when they fabricated the 20-foot angels using parametric modeling and lasers. “I have a history in classical sculpture, so when this came in front of me, it was sink or swim,” said Mike Fritz, master sculptor at the Buffalo, New York–based ceramics company. “We went to Oz and everything changed after that.” Henceforth, the newly constructed terra cotta angels came to be known as “Dorothy.” The most decrepit angel was photographed onsite and then disassembled for shipment to Buffalo. In Boston Valley Terra Cotta’s ceramics studio, the images were converted with photogrammetry software and transferred to Rhino to build a digital model. The model was divided into sections, such as an arm, a face, several feathers of a wing, etc. Then a laser cutter was used to cut plywood profiles that matched each section.   “Those [plywood] profiles of her face or her arms were packed with clay to realize the full forms,” said Mitchell Bring, the project manager for Boston Valley Terra Cotta. Each of Dorothy’s parts were hand-finished by Boston Valley’s staff of 30 sculptors. Once the clay had set, negative molds were made of each section to form the parts for Dorothy’s identical sisters. The finished sections, each of which weighs upward of 500 pounds, were shipped back to 150 Nassau Street in pieces and assembled onsite with mortared joints. Since completing the project, the digitally enhanced sculpture methods have been refined and wholly embraced by Boston Valley’s team of artisans. “Through this work flow, we’re able to get a little closer to our material earlier in the process,” Fritz said. “If we went without the new tools, it would have been six weeks of work in total. But even with our substantial learning curve the modeling and the build on the shop floor only took two-and-a-half weeks total.”