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Boston Valley Terra Cotta restored the Alberta Legislature Building’s century-old dome using a combination of digital and traditional techniques.
Restoring a century-old terra cotta dome without blueprints would be a painstaking process in any conditions. Add long snowy winters and an aggressive freeze/thaw cycle, and things start to get really interesting. For their reconstruction of the Alberta Legislature Building dome, the craftsmen at Boston Valley Terra Cotta had a lot to think about, from developing a formula for a clay that would stand up to Edmonton’s swings in temperatures, to organizing just-in-time delivery of 18,841 components. Their answer? Technology. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Omar Khan at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Orchard Park, New York, firm’s employees are as comfortable with computers as they are with hand tools.
The University of Chicago’s ongoing development is a balancing act of preserving its collegiate gothic badge of architectural honor and making bold contemporary bounds ahead. One project that maintains that equilibrium with grace is Ann Beha Architect’s conversion of the University’s old Theological Seminary into a new economics building.
The area surrounding the site at 58th and University is on the preservation watch list, so the new steel-and-glass research pavilion along Woodlawn Avenue is likely to ruffle a few feathers. But most of the work treads lightly on the site. Glass infill will create a new entryway between the seminary building’s two main wings.
While historic facades remain throughout much of the building, designers hope a new staircase will improve vertical circulation. And a 90-seat classroom anchors an expansion below grade that improves access to existing space, drawing in light from openings to a new loggia above. Placed atop a terra cotta base, the modern addition jives tastefully with the former seminary.
Treehouse of Worship. Everyone loves a treehouse, especially one that dates from 1696 (built in a tree that’s over 800 years old, no less). Boing Boing uncovered the chapel in Allouville-Bellefosse, France dedicated to the Virgin Mary that was built in the hollowed out trunk caused by a lightning strike.
Talking Tanks. Who can forget the Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania who, fed up with cars parked in the bike lane, crushed the offending vehicles with a tank. Classic. Transportation Nation couldn’t get enough of the car-crushing crusader, either, and has posted an interview where the mayor warns that tanks may return to the streets of Vilnius.
Frank Llego Wright. Will we ever tire of LEGOs? I hope not. LEGO has already immortalized Wright’s Fallingwater and his Guggenheim Museum in tiny plastic bricks, but Building Design just reported that the Prairie-style Robie House in Chicago is also available for architects and aspirants to assemble and adore.
Baking Buildings. Some of the most beautiful historic (and modern, too!) buildings feature terra cotta facades, but whether they’re ornate or sleek, we seldom have a chance to peek behind the scenes to see how the clay cladding is made. Buffalo Rising took a visit to a local terra cotta factory to check out what’s involved.