Terracotta is a timeless, beautiful and durable material. Terracotta has a wide range of properties that are being used to reinvent building envelopes. This ceramic is used for its versatility and many textures. It can also be used as rain screens, cladding and many other components. Terracotta dates back to the Babylonians and continues to be used for a variety of building types all over the globe.


Architectural terracotta is a mixture of clay and water that can serve in both non-structural or structural capacities. In the late 19th century, glazed architectural Terracotta became more popular. This is still the most popular in modern practice. Terracotta can be made in many styles and shapes to suit creative building designs and envelopes. The following projects explore terracotta’s use in arts and cultural buildings. They provide a snapshot of the way the material is used in various cities, construction markets, and climates around the globe.

The Wellin Museum of Art/ Machado and Silvetti

(c) Anton Grassl / Esto

The Wellin Museum is located on a corner lot across from the Art History department and across from the future Theatre and Studio Arts Building. The collection of art buildings built around a reconstructed lake, designed by Reed Hilderbrand Associates, helped create a new quad at Hamilton. It also created visual and pedestrian connections between campus’ two sides. The central volume’s role in the program is reinforced by its rich, terracotta-clad cladding.

Municipal Library of Greve/ MDU Architetti

(c) Pietro Savorelli

The Municipal Library of Greve, Chianti was designed by mdu architetti and is located in central Tuscany’s Chianti region. It is in the province of Florence. The building is situated at the entrance to the city, in an area that was once industrial and near the Greve River. The Library’s architectural image can be summarized by two themes: the strength of the plinth made of travertine blocks, and the lightness of its overhanging volume of terracotta. Although the plinth appears heavy and solid, its interior opens into a large foyer with a double height.

The Diana Center at Barnard College / WEISS / MANFREDI


The new Diana Center creates a new hub for social, cultural and intellectual life at Barnard College. The historic Broadway entrance gate is framed by a wedge-shaped design that provides a clear viewline connecting the Lehman Lawn campus to the historic lower core of the campus. The Diana is a curtain wall that transforms the static opacity and light-efficiency of masonry, and is centered on a campus made up of brick and terracotta. The Diana Center has 1,154 panels with varying widths and colors, as well as transparency, that can be adjusted to fit the various programs.

Gund Gallery at Kenyon College/ GUND Partnership

(c) Brad Feinknopf

The Gallery Building is located in the heart Kenyon’s academic core. It was designed by GUND to be a beacon of the arts. The building materials are made from locally-sourced sandstone, zinc metal panels and terracotta baguettes. They also reinforce the campus fabric. It was designed to celebrate, expand and complement the existing context.

College of Liberal Arts / Overland Partners

(c) Dror Baldinger

The University of Texas at Austin’s new Liberal Arts Building is an academic multi-functional building that houses the largest college campus, with over 15,000 students annually. The College had many departments that were scattered around campus. A new building was built to ensure its continued success. Vertical solar shading is provided by terracotta panels that are full-height. Terracotta rainscreen is a relic of historical terracotta that was used in campus buildings. It has a color similar to the limestone found all over campus.

The Center for Asian Art at Ringling Museum of Art/ Machado & Silvetti

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art was established in honor of John Ringling, a circus entrepreneur and collector of art. The Museum, which features both a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibition galleries, is situated on an historic sixty-six-acre estate. To meet the client’s request for a monumental entrance, the addition’s façade is made of glazed terracotta tiles in deep green. Its facade is inspired by the Museum’s vast natural landscape. The color scheme and profile are reminiscent to the Ca d’Zan’s ceramic details.

Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech / Studio KO

(c) Dan Glasser

The Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, a museum dedicated to the legacy of the French fashion designer, opened its doors in autumn 2017. Studio KO, a French architecture firm, designed the building. The building is made of concrete, terracotta and an earthen-colored terrazzo with Moroccan stones fragments. The Moroccan earth used to make the terracotta bricks for the facade was used as a source of local supply. Terrazzo is a mixture of marble and local stone used to create the facade and floor.