Architectural terracotta is an ancient form of masonry
Architectural terra-cotta is an ancient form of masonry that is still used extensively today. Terra-cotta literally means “fired earth,” a nod to the process of turning clay into a durable product used in pottery, floor tiles, and roofing. And the ability of glazed terra-cotta tiles, hung on a steel frame, to imitate expansive masonry walls made the material a popular choice for architectural expression and durability during the early 1900s. The individual but repetitive nature of the fabrication process made terra-cotta construction much more economical than carved stone for elaborate building exteriors.
Also installed in fireproof wall and ceiling systems, glazed terra-cotta tiles became extremely popular on the exteriors and interiors of schools, hospitals, and other spaces requiring special hygienic conditions and often eliminated the need for additional plaster or stucco finishes.
While architectural terra-cotta largely disappeared by the mid-20th century, there is now an active market for terra-cotta restoration products to maintain the legacy of landmark terra-cotta buildings.