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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