Words Architects Avoid (humor)

Architects Avoid (humor)

Or, more to the point, words that you should never utter in the presence of an architect. Avoiding these terms will lower the blood pressure of your poor over-educated architect and may even conceal the fact that you know nothing about architecture.


Say elevation unless referring to a decorative veneer applied to the front of a building. Many architects believe that the front elevation should be an integral part of the building and not merely applied ornament.


Layout is a term used in gymnastics and diving referring to a fully extended body. Architects use the term plan to refer to the drawing showing the relationships of the spaces as seen from above.


Most free standing vertical members in a building are columns. Large columns may be called piers. Piers that lift buildings off the ground are piloti. The vertical members supporting a fence are indeed posts.

Cross Section

Section alone is de rigueur unless used vis-à-vis longitudinal section.

Cinder Block

CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit) will suffice.


Usually referred to generically as gyp (gypsum) board  or by the proprietary name Sheetrock. The joint compound used to cover the seams between the sheets of gyp. bd. is known as mud.


Isn’t there some saying about a sow’s ear to cover this one?


Decorators are to pick out vases that go nicely with the fleur-de-lis wallpaper. Your architect may begin to convulse at the mere mention.


The pieces of glass in your windows are lites (now often lights). The things that light up in light fixtures are known as lamps to avoid confusion.


Portland cement is the bonding agent in concrete, which also includes fine aggregates (sand), coarse aggregates (gravel), and often chemical additives. You will sound particularly cool if you say reinforced concrete unless the concrete is not in fact reinforced with steel rebar.


The less said the better.


This is for our landscape architect comrades. Saying "how about a shrub or small tree here?" will endear you forever.


Grass is what your landscape architect will smoke to calm their nerves after meetings in which you refer to a lush dense green surface as grass.  A blade is grass.  A lawn is turf.


Engineers use this. I do not know what it stands for. Architects may use CAD (Computer Aided Design) but must say they hate it. Throw in the term visualization for extra credit.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The mention of Frank Lloyd Wright will suggest to your architect that you can name more professional bowlers than architects (living or dead). If this is the case, silence is golden.