architecture terminology

Term Definition
awning A rooflike structure, often made of canvas or plastic, that serves as a shelter, as over a storefront, window, door, or deck.
balustrade A rail and the row of balusters or posts that support it, as along the front of a gallery.
bargeboard A board, often ornately carved, attached along the projecting edge of a pitched roof in front of a gable.
buttress A structure, usually brick or stone, built against a wall for support or reinforcement.
colonnade A series of columns placed at regular intervals.
corbel bracket of stone, wood, brick, or other building material, projecting from the face of a wall and generally used to support a cornice or arch.
cornice A horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall.
cresting The ridge on a roof.
cupola A domelike structure surmounting a roof or dome, often used as a lookout or to admit light and air.
dormer A window set vertically into a small gable projecting from a sloping roof.
dome A vaulted roof having a circular, polygonal, or elliptical base and a generally hemispherical or semispherical shape.
edifice A building, especially one of imposing appearance or size.
eaves The projecting overhang at the lower edge of a roof.
facade The face of a building.
fascia A horizontal piece (such as a board) covering the joint between the top of a wall and the projecting eaves.
frieze A decorated band along the upper part of an interior wall.
finial A formal ornament at the top of a canopy, gable, pinnacle, etc., usually in the general shape of a fleur-de-lis.
gable The triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof. It typically has straight sides, but there are many variations.
garret A flat horizontal band or member between moldings, especially in a classical entablature.
lattice An open framework made of strips of metal, wood, or similar material overlapped or overlaid in a regular, usually crisscross pattern.
lintel A horizontal beam or stone bridging an opening, most often a door.
mansard This roof is flat on top, sloping steeply down on all four sides, thus appearing to sheath the entire top story of a house or other building.
mullion A vertical post or other upright that divides a window or other opening into two or more panes. Sometimes only ornamental.
parapet A low wall placed to protect any spot where there's a sudden drop, such as at the edge of a bridge or housetop.
pilaster A shallow pier or a rectangular column projecting only slightly from a wall. Primarily decorative.
portico A roofed entrance to a house that is columned like a temple front.
quoin The dressed stones at the corners of buildings, usually laid so their faces are alternately large and small. Usually in contrasting color of brick from the rest of the wall. Common accent in Georgian homes.
spire a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building (usually a church or temple) and that tapers to a point at the top
steeple A tall tower forming the superstructure of a building, such as a church or temple, and usually surmounted by a spire.
turret A very small, slender tower. In modern homes, usually only ornamental.
verandah A porch or balcony, usually roofed and often partly enclosed, extending along the outside of a building. Also called gallery.
entablature The upper section of a classical building, resting on the columns and constituting the architrave, frieze, and cornice.