VERTEX uses cookies to make our website work properly and to provide the most relevant content and services to our clients and site visitors.

building rising image three

Some Commonly (and Not So Commonly) Used Architectural Terminology

July 25, 2016

When it comes to designing and constructing the built environment, architects, engineers, contractors, and other professionals in the industry often use terminology that may sound like a foreign language to outsiders.

Besides all the acronyms describing different practices and professional organizations (from ACI, AIA, ASTM, through to ZNE), there are plenty of words that appear in plans and are used on job sites that don’t otherwise appear in the English language.

The editors at Curbed have put together a short list of architectural terms. Here are some of my favorites:

Building Envelope

A building envelope, also referred to as a building skin, is the physical separator between the interior and exterior of the building. The envelope includes things like walls, floors, roofs, fenestrations, and doors.


This term is often thrown around in architecture school. In the late 1800s, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, students who needed to rush their designs to their instructors sent off their drawings on a cart known as a charette. Today, the term has broadened to mean any intense, short-term design project, or an intense, on-the-spot design effort.

Sustainable/Green Building

Sustainability is a term that’s becoming more and more prevalent in architecture. A green or sustainable building refers to the structure, and the processes related to the structure, that are environmentally responsible and energy-efficient. Environmental factors are taken into account from the initial designs to the construction, as well as the operation and maintenance of a building, to any renovation or demolition.

To learn more about VERTEX’s Construction Contracting & Consulting and Engineering Design services or to speak with an Expert, call 888.298.5162 or submit an inquiry.

This article was originally published by Xpera Group which is now part of The Vertex Companies, Inc.

Related Services

Construction Contracting & Consulting

VERTEX offers construction contracting and consulting services to a broad spectrum of clients on technical projects located throughout the globe.

Learn More

Engineering Design

VERTEX provides engineering design solutions on all types of ground-up and restoration work involving commercial, residential, and industrial projects.

Learn More

Back to Insights