Home ARCHITECTURE Styles

Architectural Terms

Glossary of some architectural terms found on Hyde Park houses. Source is What Style is it? Historic American Building Survey, National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior.

ARCHITRAVE—The lower part of a classical entablature, resting directly on the capital of a column; the molding around a window or door.

ASHLAR—Hewn or squared stone, also masonry of such stone; a thin, dressed rectangle of stone for facing walls, also called ashlar veneer.

BALUSTER—an upright, often vase-shaped support for a rail.

BALUSTRADE—A series of balusters with a rail.

BAND WINDOWS—a horizontal series of uniform windows that appear to have little or no separation between them.

BARGEBOARD—A board, often ornately curved, attached to the projection edges of a gabled roof; sometimes referred to as vergeboard.

BELT COURSE—A narrow horizontal band projecting from the exterior walls of a building, usually defining the interior floor levels.

BRACKET—a support element under eaves, shelves, or other overhangs; often more decorative than functional.

CAPITAL—The tip, decorated part of a column or pilaster crowning the shaft and supporting the entablature.

CHIMNEY POT—A pipe placed on top of a chimney, usually of earthenware, that functions as a continuation of the flue and improves the draft.

CLAPBOARD—a long, narrow board with one edge thicker than the other, overlapped to cover the outer walls of frame structures; also known as weatherboard.

CLASSICAL—Pertaining to the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome.

CORBEL—A bracket or block projecting from the face of a wall that generally supports a cornice, beam, or arch.

CORINTHIAN ORDER—The most ornate of the classical Greek orders of architecture, characterized by a slender fluted column with a bell-shaped capital decorated with stylized acanthus leaves; variations of this order were extensively used by the Romans.

CORNICE—In classical architecture, the upper, projecting section of an entablature; projecting ornamental molding along the top of a building or wall.

DORIC ORDER—The oldest and simplest of the classical Greek Order characterized by heavy fluted columns with no base, plain saucer-shaped capitals, and bold simple cornice.

DORMER—a vertically set window on a sloping roof; the roofed structure housing such a window.

EGG-AND-DART MOLDING—A decorative molding comprising alternating egg-shaped and dart-shaped motifs.

ENTABLATURE—In classical architecture, the part of a structure between the column capital and the roof or pediment, comprising the architrave, frieze, and cornice.

FANLIFHT—A semicircular or fan-shaped window with radiating members or tracery set over a door or window.

FLUTED—Having regularly spaced vertical, parallel grooves or —flutes—, as on the shaft of a column, pilaster, or other surface.

GABLE—A triangular wall segment at the end of a double-pitched or gabled roof.

GALLERY—A roofed promenade, colonnade, or corridor; an outdoor balcony; in the South, a porch or veranda.

HALF-TIMBERING—Wall construction in which the spacers between members of the timber frame are filled with brick, stone, or other material.

HIPPED ROOF—A roof with four uniformly pitched sides.

HOOD MOLDING—A large molding over a window, originally designed to direct water away from the wall; also called a drip molding.

IONIC ORDER—An order of classical Greek architecture characterized by a capital with two opposed volutes.

LOZENGE—A diamond-shaped decorative motif.

MANSARD ROOF—A roof that has two slopes on all four sides.

MEDALLION—An object resembling a large medal or coin.

MODILLION—An ornamental bracket or console used in series under the cornice of the Corinthian order and other.

MOLDING—A continuous decorative band that is either carved into or applied to a surface.

MULLION—A vertical member separating (and often supporting) windows, doors, or panels set in a series.

ORDER—Any of several specific styles of classical and Renaissance architecture characterized by the type of column used (e.g., Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, Tuscan).

PALLADIAN WINDOW—A tripartite window opening with a large arched central light and flanking rectangular sidelights.

PARAPET—A low, solid, protective wall or railing along the edge of a roof or balcony.

PATERA—A circular ornament used in decorative relief work.

PAVILION—A part of a building projecting from the rest; an ornamental structure in a garden or park.

PEDIMENT—A wide, low-pitched gable surmounting the fa—ade of a building in a classical style; any similar triangular crowning element used over doors, windows, and niches.

PILASTER—A shallow pier attached to a wall; often decorated to resemble a classical column.

PORTAL—A principal entry of a structure or wall of a city.

PORTE COCHERE—A large covered entrance porch through which vehicles can drive.

QUION—Units of stone or brick used to accentuate the corners of a building.

REVEAL—The vertical side of a door or window opening between the frame and the wall surface.

RUSTICATION—Masonry cut in massive blocks separated from each other by deep joints.

SASH—A frame in which the panes of a window are set.

SPINDLE—A turned wooden element, often used in screens, stair railings and porch trim.

STRINGCOURSE—A narrow, continuous ornamental band se in the face of a building as a design element; also known as a cordon.

TERRA COTTA—A fine-grained, brown-red, fired clay used for roof tiles and decoration; literally, cooked each.

TRACERY—The curved mullions of a stone-framed window; ornamental work of pierced patterns in or on a screen, window glass or panel.

TURRET—A small, slender tower usually at the corner of a building, often containing of circular stair.

VERANDA—A roofed open gallery or porch.