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COLUMNS Editor "De-jargons" Architecture

As a part of Architecture360 in April, we asked COLUMNS editor Chris Grossnicklaus to write a bit about the "jargon" architects so often use.  Here is what he had to say:

As Architecture360 wraps up for the year, we have learned that people are extremely engaged and interested in architecture within our city. We saw this in the thousands of people who attended the myriad events organized by AIA Dallas and the Dallas Center for Architecture. These activities helped expose visitors to the creativity of architects working in Dallas while also giving behind-the-scene tours of our local landmarks.

Events like Architecture360 give architects the opportunity to have an effective dialogue with the public—an important accomplishment because we often don’t speak the same language. The practice of architecture often requires specific, technical terms and those don’t always translate well to the non-architect. We presume that everyone else knows what we are saying. Since few people outside the profession have a working knowledge of architectural terminology, our jargon and insider terms might cause a message to get lost in translation. So my advice to fellow architects is this: We need to lose the jargon.

As a first step, here is my list of 10 architecture terms I am striking from my everyday vocabulary. Instead, I’ll stick with the definitions and help de-mystify the important work we do.

1. Poche: The colored in parts of a plan.

2. Charrette: A period of intense design work.

3. Parti: The big idea.

4. Fenestration: Organize of windows in a wall.

5. Curtain wall: Glass exterior wall.

6. Plinth: A support or base.

7. Porte cochère: Porch over a driveway.

8. Parapet: Low wall forming the edge of a roof.

9. Vernacular: Traditional methods and style of a region.

10. Vignette: A quick sketch or view.

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