Track 2: Materials over Time: Points of Change

CS2.5 Terra Cotta

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: HYATT-Grand EFG
CE: 1.5

The Terra Cotta session provides a discussion of historic and modern terra cotta fabrication methods, changing installation practices, and material performance; provides an evaluation of the deficiencies specific to representative structural systems unique to the 20th century; explores alternative materials; and makes recommendations for the treatment and appropriate interventions for terra cotta preservation/conservation.

This course qualifies for HSW credit with AIA and RCEP.

Learning Objectives:


Chris Gembinski

Building Conservation Associates, Inc.


Chris is the Director of Technical Services for Building Conservation Associates, Inc., providing quality control and technical oversight for all BCA projects. Through his investigative work on hundreds of historic properties, he has developed extensive expertise in historic construction techniques and building systems, architectural materials, preservation design solutions, and construction management. Various aspects of his research and design have included masonry restoration, plaster restoration, historic finishes analysis, wood and metal window restoration design and stained-glass restoration. His work includes the design and management of conservation and preservation construction for: The Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Central Park Police Precinct, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and Trinity Chrch, Wall Street, as well as development ventures such as the Victoria Theater and Moynihan Station Redevelopments.


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Alex Vandenbergh

Senior Engineer

Alex is a Senior Engineer at Silman and has worked on many renovation and preservation projects of all types. After encountering the challenges of terra cotta flat arch construction on a project early in his career, Alex wanted to delve deeper into understanding a system that was so widely used and yet has so little information available today. Alex has worked on a number of projects with terra cotta flat arches and has encountered a variety of "lessons learned" to share with the rest of the preservation community. Alex is a licensed engineer in the state of New York.


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Casey Williams, PE

Senior Staff II
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Casey Williams, P.E., is a Senior Staff II at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. (SGH) in the Building Technology group. She has been involved with the investigation and remedial design of building enclosures, as well as the subsequent construction administration of repairs, including the New York State Capitol, the Massachusetts State House, and the First Church of Christ Scientist. Her focus is on historic building investigation and repair projects. Ms. Williams has experience investigating and designing repairs for slate, copper, and various membrane roofing systems, brick and stone masonry, and architectural terra cotta.


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Rachel L. Will, P.E.

Senior Associate
Wiss, Janney, Elstner

Rachel Will, PE is a Senior Associate with Wiss, Janney Elsnter Associates in Chicago. She participates in various projects including facade evaluations, condition surveys, structural analyses, repair design, construction document preparation, and construction observation. Ms. Will’s expertise includes preservation and repair of historic masonry (terra cotta) building facades.

Rachel currently serves as the Past-President of the Western Great Lakes Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) and a member of both the strategic planning committee and preservation engineering committee, along with member of the student design build competition subcommittee of APT.


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Edward Gerns, RA, LEED AP

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

Edward Gerns is Principal with the Chicago office of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. and has extensive experience related to the investigation and repair of existing buildings. He has performed evaluations of historic masonry facades and overseen preparation of documents for the repair of numerous masonry buildings. The topic of architectural terra cotta been of interest to Mr. Gerns for numerous years.


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CS2.5 Terra Cotta

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