Release Date: November 16, 2016 This content is archived.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Even before ground was broken three years ago for the new downtown home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, 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 should also 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,” explained Willard Pottle, international sales and marketing manager at Boston Valley Terra Cotta, which won the bid to manufacture the panels over two German firms. “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 Boston Valley has created terra cotta panels for include 250 Delaware Ave., the Peace Bridge and the new Scott Bieler Center for Clinical Sciences at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, also on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
“This medical school building is a new landmark for Buffalo,” Pottle said, 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 explained. “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 projects in the history of the family-run company, has been several years in the making between the initial design, planning and construction. Located just south of the city, Boston Valley Terra Cotta has been in business since 1889.