The biophilic facade design created at ACAWorkshop 2021 consists of separate modules for bird, bee, and plant habitats.

Buro Happold and COOKFOX explore biophilic façades at ACAW 2021

TITLE: COOKFOX and Buro Happold design living facade for the birds and the bees
SOURCE: The Architect’s Newspaper
AUTHOR: Chris Walton
DATE: 05.25.2022


The Architect’s Newspaper has published a recap detailing the collaboration between COOKFOX’s Spencer Lapp and Buro Happold’s Andre Parnther that took place at the ACAWorkshop in 2021. The team aimed to reimagine the exterior façade as much-needed habitat space for birds, bees, and plants in the urban environment.

Both COOKFOX and Buro Happold have prior experience working with terra cotta in NYC, taking part in past Boston Valley fabrication projects The Fitzroy and 512 West 22nd Street.


A planter module to the left; bee habitat and bird nest modules to the right. Photo courtesy of Buro Happold/COOKFOX.


Through extensive process and pattern studies, Lapp and Parnther developed a biophilic design consisting of a modular system of slip cast pods. Each module is shaped to occupy a specific function in the local ecosystem: as bird nests, with proper air flow and drainage; as bee habitats, protected from the elements; and as planters, with a bottom-watering system and overflow drain.

Lapp and Parnther considered a number of color palettes for the assembly’s exterior glazing, working with Boston Valley’s glaze lab to eventually settle on a study of luster, blue, and white. Subtle variations often emerge during the glazing process due to factors such as the color being used, differences in firing temperature, and how the glaze pools along the profile.


Variations in color and distribution emerge in the glazing process.


The team had to address a number of questions over the course of their prototype development, resulting in a few changes to the design. One of the benefits of ACAW is it provides a valuable “sandbox” space where architects and engineers can explore and refine experimental concepts such as this one. In several instances, prototypes conceived at ACAW have gone on to become real, built projects, including the new Orange County Museum of Art’s curved panel façade.

Read the full article here.


COOKFOX’s Spencer Lapp and Zach Grzybowski work with Buro Happold’s Andre Parnther to assemble the prototype.


Green Building & Design interviews John Krouse about the impact ACAW has on modern architecture

Green Building & Design (gb&d) magazine wrote an article about the use of Architectural Terra Cotta for modern buildings in response to the changing needs of new buildings. They also dive into Boston Valley’s Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) and the possibilities, limitations, and design flexibility of architectural terra-cotta.

Change—exploring the possibilities, limitations, and additional research required of architectural terra-cotta—requires creativity and experimentation. This is why the ACAW was born in 2016.
In the months preceding the live event in late summer, teams are assembled to address a hypothetical project involving ATC. “It’s like an open charette,” Krouse says. “The teams spend several months learning how the material can be used. It’s fun and competitive, and what comes out of each team is amazing.”

The Goody Clancy Architects team at ACAW 2021. Photo courtesy of Boston Valley Terra Cotta

Click here to read the full article.

TITLE: Architectural Terra-Cotta is Tough, Lightweight, Versatile, and Green
SOURCE: gb&d
AUTHOR: Russ Klettke
DATE: 08.16.2021

UB teams with Alfred University to advance stackable ceramic façade prototype

A team of UB architecture faculty and students has developed a stackable ceramic facade system that opens new possibilities in user-generated architecture and sculptural geometries in terra cotta.

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

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

Permasteelisa Group at the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop 2021

Permasteelisa Group developed the bespoke curtain wall system and assembled the mock-up – 5.2m/17′ high by 3.7m/12′ wide – from components made by Boston Valley and TriPyramid.

LMN Architects at the 2020 ACAWorkshop

As one of the 2020 participants, the LMN team has developed a slip cast ceramic module that aggregates to create a permeable partition.

Fifth Annual Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop Pushes the Envelope of Architectural Design

BUFFALO, NY – For a fifth year, Architects, Façade Engineers, and Ceramic Artists will gather via webinar for the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) being held Wednesday, August 12 through Thursday, August 13.

Architect’s Newspaper Webinar: Trading Notes – Experimentation of Architectural Ceramics

Trading Notes is a weekly virtual live show by The Architect’s Newspaper, May 29th speakers came together online to discuss the ongoing innovation and progress brought about by the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop.

Participants from SHoP Architects at the 2019 Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop, photo credit: Michele Taberski

Boston Valley Terra Cotta featured in an article published by Metropolis Magazine

In a recent article published by Metropolis Magazine, terra cotta is lauded as a favorable material for contemporary buildings.

Payette Designers Learn About Capabilities of Terra Cotta at 2019 ACAW Workshop

Five designers from the Payette firm participated in the 2019 ACAWorkshop, hosted by Boston Valley Terra Cotta and University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. Read their post about their experience shared on the company website.