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Panels made by Boston Valley Terra Cotta to add historical touch to new med school

More than 28,000 terra-cotta panels from an Orchard Park firm will be installed this fall as the face of University at Buffalo's new medical school building in downtown Buffalo, bringing a touch of local architectural tradition to the otherwise contemporary-looking complex.

The high-performance panels that will comprise the "skin" of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are deliberately designed to reflect Buffalo's past.

The panels are being manufactured by Boston Valley Terra Cotta, a well-known family-owned company that has been in business since 1889. Boston Valley beat out two German firms to win the contract, which is one of the largest in the company's history.

Architects HOK wanted to reflect Buffalo's history amid the city's revival and the new construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, according to UB officials.

“HOK contacted us during the conceptual design stage,” said Willard Pottle, international sales and marketing manager at Boston Valley Terra Cotta. “They made it very clear that they wanted to use terra cotta to acknowledge Buffalo’s architectural history.”

Similar panels or tiles are found throughout the city, especially on historic structures such as the Guaranty Building and the Darwin Martin House, as well as new projects like Uniland Development Co.'s Delaware North Building, the Scott Bieler Center for Clinical Sciences at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Peace Bridge.

Upon completion, the building will be covered in 105,000 square feet of terra cotta panels, each of which weighs 60 pounds and measures one foot by five feet. .

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



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