Architect Lingo Decoded for the Normal Homeowner

As with any profession, structure has its own jargon — phrases even the most seasoned layperson may not know. Here are a few translations. And believe me, there could be a whole lot more.

Randall Mars Architects

“Program.” This is a word architects like to throw around a whole lot. This means a wish list — basically a written (or scribbled, drawn, recorded or other) description of what you would like and what you need and what you’re prepared to cover.

So whenever your architect says, “What is your schedule?” Send them a link for your ideabook revealing each of the items you love.

Jeanette Lunde

Parti.” No not “party.” It is short for “parti pris,” French for “to make a decision.” In archispeak it signifies the big idea behind the design of this job. While an architect may not verbalize the parti for youpersonally, rest assured that he or she has one.

The next time you sit down with your own architect for a design review, inquire, “What is the parti for the job?” Your architect will definitely get blown off by this.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

Architects typically use four different terms to break down the design phase of a job. All these are:
Conceptual design: loose, maybe freehand, sketches of a design strategy
Schematic design: more exact sketches of a favorite design
Layout advancement: selecting materials, integrating systems and describing elements
Construction drawings: the drawings that completely describe what’s needed to buildRather than getting lost in the weeds as soon as it comes to those stages, just consider these as a preliminary set of drawings or the final set of drawings. Everything up to building drawings is preliminary design, while the building drawings represent the final design.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

While groups like the American Institute of Architects provide a particular definition for the term construction management, it’s often one of the least understood. While a homeowner may want the architect to control or oversee the construction of the job, architects are barred from doing this because of insurance and legal issues.

But the architect has a significant role to play throughout construction. Most importantly, when issues crop up, as they inevitably do, the architect will help to keep the job on track by recommending solutions consistent with the design that everybody has invested so much effort in to produce.


“Structure.” A lot of architectural terms have multiple meanings. “Construction” is just one. When it can refer to the elements (beams, joists, columns, rafters, footings) that hold up a building, it may also refer to how a space is coordinated.

Certainly this stems from when a building’s construction was basically tied to spatial organization. But new materials and technologies have made it possible to completely separate space and structure from one another, as architects like Mies van der Rohe did.

Ciulla Design

“Spatial organization.” As a term like “spatial organization” is a little dense, it really just means the way the chambers (or spaces) in a building are arranged. If your architect tells you, “The spatial organization is en package,” ask him or her to describe what this means like you’re a 5-year-old.

D’apostrophe design, inc..

“Scale.” A scale is a triangular, ruler-like device architects utilize to determine dimensions, but it frequently refers to the way the dimensions of architectural components relate to one another.

When an architect says something like, “The scale of the building is wrong,” it generally means that the building’s size doesn’t match its environment. When a building has a “good scale,” it means that the bits are sized to correlate together.

RoehrSchmitt Architecture

“Context.” Being in context usually means that the building fits its environment not only in size but in style, proportions, materials, utilize and so forth. A building that may seem out of context to some is typically one that doesn’t fit a few, or some, of these neighboring structures.

The best way to consider about circumstance is that it’s lively. As the built environment varies, the context varies. What may today seem out of context could easily be the standard in a few years.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

“Details.” Architects are always saying things like, “Let’s work through the details.” This is only because details are significant. Mies van der Rohe is famously quoted as saying “God is in the details.”

Though it could be daunting to work out all the details up front, it’s a whole lot less costly and time consuming to perform out them in the design development and construction drawings stages of a job.

DOWN into Earth Architects

“BIM.” One of the newest terms in the architect’s lexicon, this is short for “Building Information Modeling.” BIM is a method of drawing and designing that relies on creating a three-dimensional design of this job with every component articulated.

Does this strategy to designing reduce errors during building, but it provides clients a better understanding of the undertaking.

Coates Design Architects Seattle

“Juncture.” As Doug Patt describes in How to Architect, “Architecture is the art of placing materials together.” One of those terms we architects use to describe this is “juncture.”

How materials intersect influences the way the building will age and what maintenance issues will arise. For instance, if the juncture between the siding and also a door or window is not properly detailed, a leak causing a variety of headaches may result.

When your architect begins to talk about the juncture between materials, inquire how each will be detailed to lead to a well-crafted house.

Cooper Johnson Smith Architects and Town Planners

“Order.” In classical architecture, the order refers to whether a building is designed as Doric, Ionic, Corinthian or Composite. These design systems were first developed by the ancient Greeks and then used and altered by the early Romans.

In short, each order defined a system of proportion, scale, decoration and use. In today’s world architects modify and utilize a classical order to suit a particular design need. Adherence to strict rules about when and how to use each order has fallen by the wayside.

Inform us : What is your favourite piece of design talk?

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Great Design Plant: Periwinkle

Common periwinkle has become rather common indeed. The plant is extremely popular because of its capacity to rapidly cover the ground with tasteful glossy leaves yearlong. 1 plant can pay up to 8 feet.

While common periwinkle sits on the “exotic invasive” lineup, you will not have anything to be concerned about as long as you plant responsibly and keep an eye on it.

Yes, this plant is ridiculously popular, however I think of it this way: If this plant had been in high school, it would be the individual who was popular because she was nice to everybody.

Pacific Ridge Landscapes Ltd

Botanical name: Vinca minor
Common title: Common periwinkle, creeping vinca
USDA zones: 4 to 9 (find your zone)
Water necessity: Consistent moisture after first planting; does not need much after it is created.
Light requirement:Can best in dappled shade but can grow in full sun or full colour also.
Mature dimension:1 to 2 inches tall; will spread to cover large regions.
Advantages and tolerances: Tolerant of shade, sun, wet soils and drought. This is a really low-maintenance plant; after it is created, all you need to be concerned about is keeping it out of invading other locations.
Seasonal curiosity:Has evergreen leaves; blooms from mid-spring to fall.
When to plant:Historical fall or spring.

Ground One Enterprises of MN


Distinguishing traits. What makes periwinkle popular is its ability to cover large areas with glossy green leaves. They have great variation from dark green to light, based on the way the sunlight is hitting them plus they seem especially good with other evergreens, ferns and hostas.

There are lots of varieties of Vinca small that will be different in height, leaf size and colour, and flower color and size.

Julie Ranee Photography

Timothy Sheehan, ASLA

How to utilize periwinkle from the garden. Caution: Periwinkle can be invasive and spreads quickly; be liable and do not let it invade woodlands.

Now, to the fun stuff. Periwinkle is a beautiful ground cover, and its rapid spread is great when you have a large area you want to pay for. It’s very popular for base plantings and for providing a carpet of green instead to mulch or pine straw. It’s great to utilize underneath trees where grass will not grow.


Here, a rug of periwinkle borders a shady terrace.

Planting notes
Tilling the soil with peat moss will hasten the dispersing process.Space plants about 18″ apart.Soak the plants and soil.Add a mild cover of mulch.If you opted not to until using peat moss, fertilize.Water to get a month after planting. If you are weeding the region, be careful not to weed out new growth which will pop up between the original plants.Once that the plant is created, it will not require much maintenance. Just be certain it doesn’t propagate beyond where you want it to.

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Layout Takeaways From a Just Beautiful Swiss Hotel

My latest visit to St. Gotthard Pass — a 6,900-foot-high Alpine pass connecting the German- and also Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland — started with a tour of a former military bunker deep in a mountain that has been converted into a cultural and exhibition centre. It finished with a visit to a hospice converted to a hotel, just steps from the bunker’s exit. Contributing to the disposition of the two diverse yet connected entities (more resorts will probably be needed for the bunker’s new usage) was that the weather: Sun to the east gave way to fog, low clouds and rain at the pass.

This ideabook requires a glimpse in the prior Altes Hospiz, converted by Swiss architects Miller & Maranta into a wonderful hotel that respects the area’s history while providing modern conveniences — and a few courses for residential buildings and interiors.

John Hill

The resort’s conversion was completed in 2010, however the construction (centre) dates back, in 1 form or another, eight generations. The right side of this building, below the bottom aspect of the grey roof, is really a chapel, the most historic part of the construction. The chapel and the hospice have been rebuilt quite a few times for a variety of reasons, most recently 100 decades ago.

John Hill

Miller & Maranta maintained the construction basically as is but inserted a ground, made a new wooden structure and inserted a new roof. The last bit is the most idiosyncratic element of the design, because of its asymmetrical form, its own exaggerated dormers and the surface.

John Hill

As we round the lake in front of the hotel, the chapel’s bell tower gets visible.

John Hill

Approaching the construction, we may see the chapel entrance; the hotel entrance is on the side of this construction from this view. The roof asymmetry continues around this side as well.

John Hill

The fourth side of this building, where the entrance to the hotel is found, varies from the other three because it is one strong wall, sans roof.

John Hill

The ground-floor entrance is more monastic or just like a church than a hotel, which is fitting given the building’s history. The tiny windows appear larger because of the size of this opening on the inner face of the wall that is deep. I’ll acknowledge this photo captures only a portion of the quality of light coming in through these windows.

John Hill

A corridor that leads to the stair at the center of this building is definitely more hotel-like. The rock floor is an especially wonderful touch.

John Hill

The upstairs corridors that serve the different rooms utilize wood flooring and a similar grey wall complete. Overall the finishes are minimal, however they exude a warmth that is accentuated by the light coming in through the tiny windows. Notice the tray at the door for holding shoes.

John Hill

The device I was able to visit is a duplex that serves five people. A living room includes the entrance flat downstairs, and 2 bedroom areas are upstairs. Each surface is covered in solid wood boards, making the rooms warmer still compared to corridors.

John Hill

The stair is especially wonderful. The simple design features a good guardrail down the center of these measures.

John Hill

One of the 2 bedrooms upstairs is larger than the other, serving three people. Here we may see the new wood structure the architects included. It is apparent that the space is below the roof’s peak. Each the finishes and even the furniture pieces are simple, but the spaces are very comfy.

John Hill

Another bedroom has two beds; not observable is a dresser serving equally. We see that a little window centered in the room. The space layouts are hardly regular, fitting the asymmetrical outdoor. Inside, the design makes a calm that is a respite from the unpredictable weather of St. Gotthard Pass.

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An Oregon Cottage With 21 Flavors of Color

Eric and Mimi Kauffman’s 1912 cabin in Oregon is a bold reflection of the zest for life, relaxation and cuisine. Bright colors and a lush garden invite those strolling by to linger and revel in the superb aroma in the kitchen window.

The couple spent the first few decades of the marriage traveling far and wide, directed by their bohemian spirits. As it came time to put down roots, they chose Halfway, Oregon, nestled in Pine Valley near the magnificent Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.Halfway is also the gateway to Hell’s Canyon and the Snake River. This town, with a population of 350, is known for ranching, outdoor recreation and, above all, hospitality.

in a Glance
Who lives here:
Eric and Mimi Kauffman and their cat, Dottie
Location: Halfway, Oregon
Size: 1,200 square feet; 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms

Sarah Greenman

Sarah Greenman: What do you love in your community?
Mimi Kauffman: Halfway is the nicest neighborhood of individuals we’ve ever known, and we’ve lived in a great deal of places. People here take some time. You can’t go shopping. You can’t be a spectator. I can’t be as expansive within an urban area as I can here. In the city, you are so busy being busy you could forget that you are. You must have room to let your ideas come through.
Eric Kauffman: Halfway Is a Superb place. And I really like everything about our residence.

SG: What drew you to this home?

MK: I helped a friend move here in 1988. Eric and I returned every once in a while with our trailer for holidays. We came back in 1998 after having lived in Mexico for a while. We arrived on July 5 and so were moved in by mid-August. We looked in a great deal of areas, but they had acreage. We wanted something manageable.

Sarah Greenman

Mimi’s backyard garden is a cornucopia of climbing vines, flowering shrubs, potted plants and hanging baskets.

MK: I totally love flowers. I told my kids that if there is a inheritance money, forget about it. I am spending every last cent on flowers.

Sarah Greenman

The Kauffmans newly retired in the restaurant industry. They also owned and operated a location named Mimi’s on the main road in Halfway for several decades. The tile sign dangling on their porch used to decorate the front of the restaurant.

SG: What motivates your personal personality?
MK: Everything inspires me. It’s a really intuitive thing. I like color and flowers and traveling. Basically, if it makes me more happy, I really do it.

Sarah Greenman

The foyer is a large, open area with passageways on four sides. A set of French doors leads to the porch, a doorway opens to the workplace, an open breezeway contributes to the living room and a staircase extends to a family room and 2 small bedrooms.

MK: I like “workouts” I don’t like to feel trapped. It’s wonderful to know that in any moment, I could be out the door and on my way.

Sarah Greenman

A home office/music room is located just off the foyer and gives room for the couple’s many instruments. Eric plays guitar, trombone, cello and a host of other instruments. He also plays and sings in a local band called The Halfwits. Mimi is also a gifted musician and plays mandolin and guitar.

Sarah Greenman

SG: What did you do to make the home yours?
MK: Paint. The whole home was covered in a soul-sucking white. I had to eliminate it.

SG: Where’s your favourite place to shop for home products?
MK: I am a hunter-gatherer. I can’t give you resources for the things in my home, since they’re just one of a type or I can’t remember!

Sarah Greenman

The kitchen is an explosion of color. Periwinkle walls and lime-green trim are just the beginning of this eye catching space. Mimi and Eric are both amazing chefs and desired a kitchen which inspired their culinary endeavors.

MK: Can you feel there are 21 different paint colors in my residence? It’s a whole lot, I understand, but all of it seems to work. I learned to appreciate food in Thailand, and I learned to appreciate color in Mexico.

Sarah Greenman

When it’s sunflower year, the Kauffman home is always filled with bright yellow blossoms. Volunteer sunflowers have made an annual home on a wall behind the couple’s garage and keep the home in sunflowers throughout the summer.

MK: What’s a surprise. I really like the process of collecting and bringing it all together.

Sarah Greenman

A trendy, easy blue master bedroom on the second floor tempers the high energy of this kitchen below. A traditional wooden bed frame is flanked by 2 low-profile side tables; those pieces are the sole furniture items within the room. A large east-facing window overlooks the side yard.

Sarah Greenman

A narrow hall contributes to a very small bathroom, typical in size for a home this age, and a second bedroom, which Mimi uses as her studio. Even though there are four different colors of trim and two separate wall colors in the photo above, it seems to work.

Sarah Greenman

SG: what’s your favorite place in the home?
EK: Everywhere. Seriously, I really like every area within this home.
MK: Each component! I am comfortable everywhere. But if I had to choose, I’d say my own studio. My area has that special quality — when I go in there, I know I’m going to love what I am doing, whether it’s yoga or art or anything.

Sarah Greenman

Mimi’s studio is well stocked for making art. She consistently includes jars of brushes, boxes of loose and paints paper ready to go. There are little homages to Mexico throughout the Kauffman home. Bright Dia de los Muertos art hangs over her bookcase.

Sarah Greenman

Mimi also believes her studio a sacred space for yoga and meditation. A Buddha painted on fabric oversees an altar of meaningful objects. A stained glass floral motif hangs from the window and then diffuses the night light.

Sarah Greenman

When the Kauffmans moved into the cabin, they pulled an ugly chain link fence which separated them by their neighbor and planted a vegetable garden across the property line. The few now refer to their backyard as “The Park.”

The back porch is just spacious enough to house the spa. Outdoor shades roll to protect the porch from sun or snow.

Sarah Greenman

SG: What was the biggest design dilemma?
MK: The home had no garage or outdoor storage, which can be tough to get a location that gets snow all winter. We had to create a detached garage in the back of the house.
EK: We can’t get the vehicle in it right now. But it is a good place for bikes and all our extra stuff.

Sarah Greenman

The painted garage door is ornately carved and surrounded by a mossy ground cover. Whimsical fish tiles are set into the cement measure.

SG: What is the most recent home improvement project?
EK: I began painting the exterior in April of this year [2012]. I’ve just got one little remaining patch around the west side. Once that is done, I will be finished for a while.

Sarah Greenman

Renaissance girl Mimi Kauffman can often be found on her front porch enjoying the most recent issue of The Sun Magazine.

SG: Any advice for other homeowners looking to break from the color rut?
MK: You have to specify what it is you love on your own. Then step back and let the colors shine through.

telephone: Do you live in a colorful cabin? Discuss it with us!

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