Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Guastavino Tiles

A rough-surfaced clay tile noted for its sound absorbing quality.

The company was begun by Rafael Guastavino y Moreno, the internationally acclaimed designer and builder of fireproof structural vaults and domes. Rafael Guastavino y Esposito, the son of Rafael, worked for his father until 1908 and then assumed control of the Guastavino firm. Under the son's leadership some of the firm's most daring and beautiful projects were completed including the crossing of St. John the Divine, and the Registry Room at Ellis Island.

Rafael Guastavino Moreno

Rafael Guastavino Moreno (Valencia, Spain, 1842 – Asheville, North Carolina 1908) was a Valencian architect and builder.

He created the Guastavino tile, a "Tile Arch System" patented in the United States in 1885 used for constructing robust, self-supporting arches and architectural vaults using interlocking terra cotta tiles and layers of mortar.

Guastavino tile is found in some of New York's most prominent Beaux-Arts landmarks and in major buildings across the United States.

- Wikipedia (online August 2012)
Boston Valley Terra Cotta's Guastavino Tiles

Boston Valley Terra Cotta's Guastavino Tiles
can be used for restoration or new construction projects. The Guastavino tile system uses layers of terra cotta tiles set in a herringbone pattern in Portland cement. This vault and arch system became very popular in many major U.S. cities at the turn of the century because terra cotta is non-combustible, and because the system is lighter in weight and was less expensive than other vault construction practices of the time.

Boston Valley Terra Cotta is proud to carry on the legacy of Raphael Guastavino and his vault system. This ancient technology still has a place in today’s architecture. We have provided Guastavino tiles for the restoration of two of Raphael Guastavino’s famous constructions – the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal and the Queensboro Bridge, both in New York City. Tiles were also provided for restoration projects at the Louisiana State Capitol and West Point Academy’s entry gate moat.
- Boston Valley Terra Cotta product catalog  (online August 2012)


Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:


Photos and their arrangement 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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