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Frisian tile maker Tichelaar will clad new New York museum

Innovative terracotta façade

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

MAKKUM, the Netherlands – One of the oldest companies in the Netherlands, Royal Tichelaar Makkum, will supply the terracotta tiles to clad a section of the facade of the new Museum of Arts & Design in New York. The cramped museum will move from a downtown location to a landmark vacant building on Columbus Circle, known to the local community as the ‘lollipop.’

Tichelaar, founded in 1594, is the pre-eminent maker in the world of hand-painted and specially designed ceramics, earthenware and especially tiles. Besides producing items for the tourist industry, Tichelaar also makes tile tableaus for dozens of projects throughout the Netherlands, and beyond. The firm as well produces roofing and building tiles for high-profile architectural projects.

The Museum of Arts & Design has bought the empty, Moorish-ornamented 10-story building on Columbus Circle from the city for $17 million. The white marble structure was designed by Edward Durell Stone. Built in the 1960s, it was nicknamed the ‘Lollipop’ for its quirky, Venetian-style pillars. The purchase climaxed a two-year struggle with preservationists who opposed its sale. The building had been donated to the city in 1980 as a public facility for visitors’ services and cultural affairs. The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs vacated the building in 1997.

The transformation concept has been designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture and necessitates the removal of certain interior and exterior building features, including the deteriorating façade. It will be re-clad in opaque glass and terracotta, materials that express the Museum's craft traditions.

Tichelaar will white glaze the ceramic slabs and use them to clad much of the 10,000 square feet façade, thus creating a new exterior for the building. The Makkum firm was selected for the project on the strength of its specialty and expertise in making special materials for architect-designed buildings. It is the first U.S. commercial venture for the company, still run by a scion of the Tichelaar family, whose name literally means ‘tile maker.’