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NBK terracotta façades bring eye candy & sustainability to Albion Library

NBK terracotta façades bring style & sustainability to new library in Toronto

Albion Library, tucked into an underprivileged neighborhood in Toronto, is wowing visitors with a unique exterior featuring five brightly-hued shades of terracotta. The friendly, colorful design by Perkins+Will features a mix of both TERRART Large and Baguette glazed and natural vertical tiles. The library, located in the Rexdale area, brings warm tones to the street and showcases terracotta, an ancient building material, being rediscovered and used with a fresh, contemporary approach. Architects are turning to NBK terracotta tiles as a high-performance sustainable material that helps minimize the ecological footprint of buildings.

Architects opted to clad the 29,000-sq.-ft. public building in terracotta in part because the material is applauded for its durability, resistance to aging and sun protection properties. The NBK tiles don’t fade in the sunlight and are water and corrosion-resistant. On some areas of the façade, glazed custom-colored planks were layered atop hidden natural white and gray planks, and the vibrant top layer was designed to evoke a garden. The overall effect is a captivating three-dimensional appearance that adds depth.

“The façade effectively transitions from a solid wall to an open screen of vertical colored tubes that enclose the courtyards and entry canopy. The terracotta baguettes allowed us to create that continuity as the building dematerializes from a mass to a floating veil,” Perkins+Will’s Design Director Andrew Frontini explained to Architizer.
“What’s really great about it is how flexible it is,” said Frontini. “It’s one type of material you can literally have any number of custom glazes or extrusions that can be customized. There’s literally no such thing as a standard extrusion.”


The library serves as a resource and communal space in a neighborhood that many immigrants call home and was designed to draw in passersby, encouraging interaction through its bright, welcoming and accessible personality.

“The library is in a tough urban neighborhood,” said Frontini, “so we wanted to create a joyous expression that is also tough from a material perspective.”

Photos by Lisa Logan Photography.

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