Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop Aims to Broaden Knowledge about the Performance of Terra Cotta

The sixth consecutive Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) will take place on Aug. 19, 2021, commencing with an opening keynote speech by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, principals of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects | Partners.

ACAW is an industry-academic collaborative workshop hosted by Boston Valley Terra Cotta, with Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. Its aim is to broaden industry professionals’ knowledge of the performance of terra cotta, encouraging a deeper understanding of manufacturing architectural ceramics that will inform next-generation designs.

Guided by terra-cotta manufacturers and ceramicists, eight teams of architects, façade engineers, and educators work together over the course of the workshop to share knowledge and gain experience developing terra-cotta wall assemblies. Visual mockups—constructed by the teams onsite at Boston Valley—will be virtually presented during the conference. The event is concluded by closing keynote speaker Mic Patterson, PHD and LEED AP+ of Façade Tectonics Institute.

The ACAW 2021 Workshop has brought together preeminent members from architecture and engineering firms around the world. Walter P. Moore and Associates Inc. is participating in two separate teams—Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects | Partners. A team from Studio Gang has returned for a second year to continue their explorations. Professionals from COOKFOX Architects and Buro Happold are working as one team. TriPyramid is also on two teams, supporting HOK, Permasteelisa North America and Josef Gartner, in addition to Architecture Research Office (ARO) and Heintges. Goody Clancy and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) comprise the sixth professional team. Academic teams include students from Carnegie Mellon University and a collaborative study between faculty from the College of Ceramics at Alfred University and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.

Sixth Annual Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop

The goal of ACAW is to produce mock-ups that are more informative than the traditional model, utilizing real-time, directive research. The hands-on workshop provides each team with feedback on feasibility to help further refine their design explorations of ceramic facades or screens. In this model, everybody is learning. Industry experts and academia alike gain a deeper knowledge of the manufacturing process and how it can be utilized to create building skins that take advantage of terra cotta’s natural properties.

“Teams leave this workshop with a better understanding of the material, having learned more about the possibilities of terra cotta and how its fabrication can enhance building performance,” says John Krouse, CEO at Boston Valley Terra Cotta. “This year the level of creativity has risen to produce project-focused studies that offer practical solutions that can potentially go to market. Interest in sustainability has become strong as teams consider the embodied energy of manufacturing terra cotta for high-performance façades—advancing the material to meet both sustainability requirements and aesthetic needs.”

This year, the pandemic necessitated a hybrid approach to the workshop. The prototypes were fabricated in the factory from virtually developed design concepts, while individual teams are scheduled to arrive at Boston Valley to finalize and build their assemblies. During the conference, the teams’ research will be presented online. Post-presentation panels will further the discussion on the topics of façade engineering and fabrication.

The ACAW 2021 conference will be held on Thursday, Aug. 19, and is open to the public. Register for the event and find more details and sponsorship information.

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