• ACAW 2023



2023 was our 8th annual workshop.

Now in its eighth year, the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop is the paramount venue for innovation in architectural terra cotta. Presentations will share design studies ten months in the making from eight professional teams who have developed terra cotta solutions for a variety of architectural applications.


Eric Parry Architects + FMDC Ltd.

Eric Parry Architects is working with FMDC Ltd. on production studies for the Salisbury Square Development project in London. A new commercial building will be clad in unglazed terra cotta with RAM pressed decorative spandrel panels to give it a unique character. The design includes extruded terra cotta finials that create a vertical emphasis and reflect the structural rhythm of the building. Finally, a reflective, high-gloss glazed soffit is proposed over the reception entrance to accentuate it facing the public square.


ZGF and LERA’s research focuses on enhancing the performance of exterior façade systems, aiming to advance beyond the aesthetics of terra cotta to use its unique material properties to improve building performance. Metrics studied may include thermal value, embodied carbon, durability, light reflection, structural efficiency, acoustics, or fabrication efficiency. Research methods are also being evaluated to reduce system cost and improve system sustainability.

Pickard Chilton + Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Pickard Chilton is interested in creating an expressive design language that alternate materials such as metal cannot achieve, by investigating terra cotta’s distinct technical and artistic qualities. Along with Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA), the team will explore sculptural properties that tell a story unique to this material, forming an argument for the incorporation of terra cotta into real-world projects. Paired with an understanding of manufacturing and fabrication processes, their goal is to leverage these characteristics to develop a freestanding, hybrid structural system that could lend itself to a larger interior or exterior application, such as a feature stair or accent wall.

RIOS + Arup

RIOS and Arup propose to design and develop a tiled, terra cotta cladding assembly which can be modulated to harness the sun, wind, and rain in creating a porous and bio-climatically responsive exterior system. The concept of a high-performance facade will be investigated to formulate an innovative, sustainable, and regionally responsive system of enclosure. The team is focusing on research topics such as biophilia, solar performance, natural ventilation, rainwater retention, and evaporative cooling.

HGA + Studio NYL

Teaming up with Studio NYL, HGA is revisiting the design of their Center for Arctic Studies at Bowdoin College, to explore a custom extruded terra cotta plank that better preserves the expression of the original cladding concept. Due to budget challenges, the design team had to exchange stone planks for standard long-format brick. However, extruded terra cotta planks have a hollow interior that allows for strength and weight optimization to permit longer lengths than a masonry crew could typically handle with solid stone, and results in about a one-third reduction of clay when compared to a long-format brick. The efficiency to be gained from field installation due to lighter weights and fewer pieces, plus the reduced carbon footprint resulting from greater efficiency of material, makes terra cotta a particularly appealing option.

Henning Larsen + Thornton Tomasetti

Henning Larsen is pairing with Thornton Tomasetti and VS1 by Innovation Glass to explore the potential of terra cotta as a self-sustaining, high-performance building skin system that addresses formal expressions, modularity and sustainability. The team wants to test opportunities for integrating other building systems such as daylight control, ventilation, and landscape elements that can contribute to a high performing skin system. Their goal is to develop a solution using terra cotta that can adapt to different typology of architecture and facade expressions while functioning as an integral building component.

CO Architects

Team CO Architects’ approach aims to maximize the way people experience terra cotta. The screen system can be viewed from all sides, inside and out, and acts as a shading device, a rainwater shedding and collection system, and a potential place for plants to grow. The terra cotta module is designed to generate a large variety of patterns as well as integrate texture and glazes, in contrast with exposed clay body surfaces, to create versatile compositions that make the experience of the material diverse and surprising depending on location and light.

Selldorf Architects + Socotec

The Selldorf Architects and Socotec team halved the weight of their rainscreen prototype by reducing the subframe, forming thermal ridges in terra cotta, and less material use.



Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture
Pittsburgh, PA

Laura Garofalo


USC School of Architecture
Los Angeles, CA

Sanjeev Tankha
Mic Patterson


University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning
Buffalo, NY

Chris Romano
Nick Bruscia


Syracuse University School of Architecture
Syracuse, NY

Elizabeth Kamell


University of Waterloo School of Architecture
Cambridge, Ontario, CA

David Correa


Architectural Association School of Architecture
London, England

Patricia Mato-Mora
Anna Muzychak


Opening Keynote Speaker


Principal & Founder – Eric Parry Architects

August 14th, 8:00 PM
Greatbatch Pavilion, Darwin Martin House

Eric Parry founded his practice in 1983 after studying architecture at the University of Newcastle (1970–1973), the Royal College of Art (1976–1978) and the Architectural Association (1979–1980).

As an architect he is known for the intellectual rigour and sensitivity with which every project is approached and imbued and for recognizing the importance of art and craft in the built environment. Now leading a practice of about 80 with offices in London and Singapore, he is still fully involved in every aspect of the practice’s work, from inception and design to the direction of the project teams, design development and delivery.

Eric Parry maintains a key involvement in all projects, particularly in their design development stages, and under his leadership the practice has developed a reputation for delivering beautifully crafted and well-considered buildings.


Founder – Studio Christine Jetten

August 14th, 6:00 PM
403 Hayes Hall, University at Buffalo

Christine Jetten founded her practice in 1997 as a ceramicist working in the field of Fine Art, making sculptures and site-specific work as well as exhibiting in museums, galleries, and sculpture gardens. Her love for architecture was never far away, in the sense of experiencing spaces in the built environment and public space, which was reflected in her art.

Clay and glaze became her media. Early on, her goal was to create glazes that would serve as a new vibrant medium for use in contemporary architecture, with the idea of liberating the perception of the glaze from that of a simple, uniform color coating. The palette of glazed ceramics is infinite. Christine specialized in creating glaze qualities that cannot be mimicked in any other material — rich textures, variegated colors, and reflective surfaces.

This lecture focuses on the process Christine developed through her collaboration with architects and the ceramic industry, concentrating on the outcome of this process — from concept to building.


CEO – Boston Valley Terra Cotta

August 14th, 2:00 PM
403 Hayes Hall, University at Buffalo

John Krouse is the CEO of Boston Valley Terra Cotta in Orchard Park, NY, as well as a Ceramic Engineer by trade. Krouse holds a BS in Ceramic Engineering and a minor in Ceramic Sculpture from Alfred University, and has over 39 years of experience in terra cotta manufacturing. Boston Valley has successfully completed well over 3,000 building projects with Krouse leading the company. These projects range in size and scope, from the preservation of historic landmarked buildings to the construction of supertall new-build structures.

Omar Khan, CMU, Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture


Professor and Head – School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University

Omar Khan is Professor and Head of the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, and co-organizer of the Architectural Ceramics Assemblies Workshop (ACAW). Khan was previously an Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and co-director of the Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART) Community of Excellence, where he spearheaded academic and industry research partnerships. ACAW is a product of that initiative, a research collaboration supported by Boston Valley Terra Cotta to explore material and design innovations in architectural ceramics. Khan, with his partner Laura Garofalo, also edits the annual books chronicling the research and prototypes developed through ACAW.

Closing Keynote


Senior Manager – Construction, Allied Properties REIT

August 17th, 5:30 PM
Buffalo Marriott, LECOM Harborcenter

Topic: The Well, an ambitious seven-building “megaproject” near Toronto’s urban core, is an innovative effort to deliver density and a diverse range of uses, along with a walkable, vehicle-free urban environment, plenty of green space, and cutting-edge energy storage technology. Join Orel Samson from Allied Properties, the Well’s co-lead developer, as he discusses the project. 

Host and Moderator

John Krouse

CEO, Boston Valley Terra Cotta

Omar Khan

Professor and Head, School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University

Presented by:

With Contributions From:

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