The Voxman Music Building sits at a major intersection in the heart of downtown Iowa City. The vertically stacked building’s massing and facade contrasts transparent glass and opaque terracotta surfaces to visually connect the school’s public spaces to its urban context. Taking tonal cues from its academic and urban context, a dove-grey terracotta system uses flat panels and vertical louvers to enclose the more private program elements.
The terracotta wall is defined by two conditions. First, a solid opaque wall was clad in a flat panel terracotta rainscreen system to protect 6 inches of outboard insulation. Using a single color, two textures—flat or channeled—and two glazes—matte or reflective—are mixed to create four tile types that give the facade its dynamic quality. In flat, even light, the system reads as a consistent color and texture. In direct daylight, the varied textures and finishes reveal deep contrast between tile forms, decomposing the facade’s massive scale and shimmering with the movement of the viewer.
In the second condition, a louvered terracotta and aluminum system screens punched window openings to provide sun shading during times of peak solar gain. To create both a visual and textural transition between these different systems, a new hybrid terracotta form blends the two conditions. The visual effect of this repeated twisted form softens the transition at the base of the window and distinguishes the vertical modularity of the facade.
The resulting compilation of conditions creates a syncopated rhythm of smooth and striated surfaces as it reveals its complexity across a variety of scales. From a distance, the terracotta modularity accentuates the internal composition of program spaces. At closer proximity, the interaction of light across the varied surfaces animates the facade at the human scale.