Few materials are as timeless, durable and beautiful as terracotta. With a range of inherent properties, terracotta is being specified to redefine building envelopes. Used for its many colors and textures, as well as its flexibility, this ceramic can be constructed as cladding, rain screens and a variety of components. Dating back to the Babylonians, terracotta has been used throughout history, and it continues to be a material selected for diverse building types around the world.
By definition, architectural terracotta refers to a fired mixture of clay and water that can be used in non-structural and structural capacities on the exterior or interior of a building. It was in the late 19th century the version with a ceramic glaze, called glazed architectural terracotta, became more popular. It's still often what's used most in contemporary practice. Today, terracotta is produced in many different shapes and styles to accommodate creative building envelopes and concepts. Each of the following projects reinterpret terracotta and its application in arts and cultural buildings. Together, they represent a snapshot of how the material is being used around the world in different cities, construction markets and climates.
The Wellin Museum is sited on a corner lot, across the road from the Art History department and across a gracious lawn from the future Theatre and Studio Arts Building. This collection of art buildings around a reconstructed pond, designed with Reed Hilderbrand Associates, created a new arts quad at Hamilton and helped develop visual and pedestrian connections between the two sides of campus. A richly textured, dark terracotta cladding of the central volume reinforces its key role in the program and composition.
The Municipal Library of Greve in Chianti, designed by mdu architetti, is located in the heart of the Chianti region, in the province of Florence, in Tuscany. The building is located at the entrance of the city in a former industrial area, near the Greve river. The architectural image of the Library can be summarized in two themes: the solidity of the plinth, made of travertine blocks and the lightness of the overhanging terracotta volume. The plinth seems heavy, solid, close, but its interior opens in a wide double-height entrance foyer.
The Diana Center establishes a new nexus for social, cultural, and intellectual life at Barnard College. From the historic entrance gate at Broadway, the wedge-shaped design frames a clear sightline linking the central campus at Lehman Lawn to the lower level historic core of the campus. Squarely centered in a campus defined by brick and terra cotta, the Diana translates the static opacity of masonry into a contemporary luminous and energy-efficient curtain wall. Within 1,154 panels of varying widths, gradients of color, opacity, and transparency are calibrated to the Diana Center’s diverse programs.
Located in the heart of Kenyon’s academic campus core, the Gallery Building was designed by GUND as a beacon for the arts. Building materials reinforce the established campus fabric and consist of locally acquired sandstone exterior, used extensively on campus, zinc metal panels, terracotta baguettes, and glass. It was made to be a design that celebrates, expands and complements the existing context.
The new Liberal Arts Building at the University of Texas at Austin is a multifunctional academic building for the largest college on campus with an annual enrollment of over 15,000 students. With departments previously scattered throughout campus, a new building was designed for the ongoing success of the College. Full-height terracotta panels provide vertical solar shading to adjacent glazing. The terracotta rainscreen relates to historical terracotta used by other campus buildings, with a color that matches the limestone also found throughout campus.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the legacy of circus entrepreneur and art collector John Ringling and his wife, Mable. The Museum—which features both a permanent collection and temporary exhibition galleries—sits on a historic sixty-six acre estate. The addition’s façade is composed of deep-green, glazed terra cotta tiles that address the client’s requirement of a new monumental entrance. The façade relates to the natural environment of the Museum’s extensive landscape, and its color and chiseled profile are reminiscent of the Cà d’Zan mansion’s ceramic detailing.
Dedicated to the work of the legendary French fashion designer, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (mYSLm) opened its doors in autumn 2017. The building has been designed by the French architecture firm Studio KO. Built of terracotta, concrete and an earthen colored terrazzo with Moroccan stone fragments, the building blends harmoniously with its surroundings. The terracotta bricks that embellish the facade are made from Moroccan earth and produced by a local supplier. The terrazzo used for the floor and facade is made using a combination of local stone and marble.