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Terra cotta façade for new medical school building

Watch a video of how each terra cotta panel is made.

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published November 18, 2016

“They made it very clear that they wanted to use terra cotta to acknowledge Buffalo’s architectural history.”
Willard Pottle, international sales and marketing manager
Boston Valley Terra Cotta

Even before ground was broken three years ago for the new downtown home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, it was clear that the building would transform the neighborhood. Together with its future neighbors, the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and the Conventus medical office building, the new medical school building would be making a lasting statement in an area about to undergo major changes.  

The designers at HOK were clear that while an urban renaissance was taking off in Buffalo, the new medical school building also should reflect the city’s rich architectural past.

That’s the reason that this fall, terra cotta panels — 28,006 of them to be precise — are being installed as the high-performance “skin” of the new home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“HOK contacted us during the conceptual design stage,” says Willard Pottle, international sales and marketing manager at Boston Valley Terra Cotta, which won the bid over two German firms to manufacture the panels. “They made it very clear that they wanted to use terra cotta to acknowledge Buffalo’s architectural history.”

Terra cotta can be found throughout Buffalo, notably on city landmarks like the Guaranty Building and the Darwin Martin House. These buildings were references that HOK designers used in discussing how they wanted the panels on the new medical school building to look.

More recent examples of projects that feature Boston Valley terra cotta panels  include 250 Delaware Ave., the Peace Bridge and the new Scott Bieler Center for Clinical Sciences at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

“This medical school building is a new landmark for Buffalo,” Pottle says, adding that terra cotta, which is very popular on university campuses worldwide, connotes durability.

“Terra cotta isn’t a 25-30 year kind of material,” he explains. “It’s a material for buildings that will be there a long time.”

When installation is complete, the building will be covered in 105,000 square feet of terra cotta panels. Each panel weighs 60 pounds and measures 1 foot by 5 feet.

The project, among the largest in the history of the family-run company, has been several years in the making between the initial design, planning and construction. Headquartered in Orchard Park, just south of Buffalo, Boston Valley Terra Cotta has been in business since 1889.

READER COMMENTS

It was very gratifying to read this story. This is an excellent example of how UB partners with the community.

 

I have been watching the development of the new home for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and am looking forward to personally seeing the installation of the terra cotta panels.

 

Stanley Schwartz

Great story of a UB and the community partnership with outstanding results! The building exterior wrap in terra cotta will be a standout on the Buffalo landscape.

 

Suzanne Laychock