• Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop


Architectural Terra-Cotta is Tough, Lightweight, Versatile, and Green

TITLE: Architectural Terra-Cotta is Tough, Lightweight, Versatile, and Green
DATE: August 16, 2021
SOURCE: Green Building & Design Magazine
BY: Russ Klettke

Read the full article on the GB&D Magazine website

Architectural terra-cotta (ATC) is an old material that’s finding new applications in very important places, building facades, for very important reasons. It’s resilient and lightweight, it carries relatively low embodied energy, it offers design versatility, and it is made from a very sustainable source: clay.

Today ATC can be used for more than ornamentation or a rain screen. It’s strong enough to serve as part of the structure. That’s exactly why architects, facade builders, academics, and related construction interests are participating in a collaborative convening of the minds—the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW)—to explore the possibilities of architectural terra-cotta.

Why do so many companies of size and prominence take part in ACAW? Perhaps the question should be: “Why wouldn’t they?”

“My interest in ACAW is it’s an opportunity to engage with the other people in a theoretical exercise,” says John Neary, a senior facade specialist at HOK. “Real innovation only takes place with this extensive degree of collaboration between multiple players.”

Indeed, the fact that a project deadline and budget do not hang in the balance is part of what makes this exercise attractive. The workshop is quite similar to academic research in that the spirit is focused on discovery, not delivery. If they find things that don’t work, the finding itself has value.

At the same time, each team member has reason to ultimately find workable solutions, which they might begin to employ sooner rather than later.

“ACAW is truly research,” says Boston Valley Terra Cotta’s John Krouse. “It allows for failure without clients screaming at you.” Instead, Krouse describes the exercise as “very positive, very collaborative, very good energy, and it breaks down barriers and myths around ideas, enabling us to explore new concepts.”

Architects from the Goody Clancy/Simpson Gumpertz & Heger team ACAW 2021. Credit: Boston Valley Terra Cotta.

Read the full article on the GB&D Magazine website

Header image: The Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects/Studios Architecture team prototype that was presented at ACAW 2020.
Photo credit: ©Julian Ross Imaging 2021

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