HOK/TriPyramid/Permasteelisa North America & Josef Gartner
Structural Terra Cotta Façade
Terra Cotta is familiar as a cladding material, typically employed in rainscreen assemblies today, clipped to various types of non-load-bearing wall systems, and used more frequently as a masonry veneer in the past. A Structural Terra Cotta mullion could lend the sculptural depth of stone and high thermal performance to a modern facade. With increasing demands for improved energy performance and reduced embodied carbon in building enclosures, seeking alternatives to conventional aluminum-framed curtain wall is urgent. Composites, wood, steel and stainless steel and fiber-reinforced high-performance precast concrete present possibilities. We proposed to explore whether Terra Cotta might as well.
Obviously, the TerraCotta’s structural capabilities are principally compressive and suggest immediately the need for a complementary tensile component. Initial ideas we propose to test include mullions comprising terra cotta segments post-tensioned with internal stainless steel tendons, and variations on that idea that could include external tension elements. Beyond the prototypical Terra Cotta mullion, there might be a wall more similar to reinforced block or brick masonry but incorporating pre-stressed reinforcement to surpass the capacity of conventional construction. Another possibility could be a unitized curtain wall of pre-stressed Terra Cotta frames.
TriPyramid is the perfect design partner to contribute the design and fabrication of the tensile components. To design the Terra Cotta Mullion as part of a total enclosure system we need a facade fabricator and installer, and Gartner’s expertise in special wall systems is uniquely suited to this project. The mockup they are assembling from components made by Boston Valley and TriPyramid will show the true aesthetic and technical potential of the Structural Terra Cotta Facade concept.
Director of Engineering
HOK – Terra Cotta Mullion: John Neary, Façade Specialist; Victoria Ereskina, Façade Specialist; Blake Kurasek, Façade Specialist; Francesca Meola, Structural Engineer; Marie Achalabun, Architect; Michael Miller, Architect.
HOK – Design Explorations of the theme: John MacCallum, Design Principal; Sha Li, Designer; Francisco Moreno, Designer; Ritika Kapoor, Designer.
TriPyramid: Michael Mulhern, President; Jeff Anderson, Design Manager; Nate White, Head of Engineering; Matt Bull, Project Manager.
Permasteelisa/Josef Gartner: Roberto Bicchiarelli, Design Manager; Bernhard Rudolf, Director of Engineering; Leonardo Flores, Project Manager; Khalil Rahmani, Project Manager; Andrew McBride, Designer/ Draftsman.
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