Architectural and Engineering Glossary


Ash House

In colonial America,a small dependency for storing ashes that were used primarily for making soap.

Ashlar Line

A horizontal line at the exterior face of a masonry wall.

Ashlar Piece

A vertical stud between the floor beams and rafters of a garret.

Ashlar Veneer

A veneer wall constructed of ashlar masonry.


See ashlaring.


A metal receptacle beneath a grating for collection and removal of ashes.


A chamber located below the fireplace or firebox for the collection and removal of ashes.

Ashpit Door

A cast iron door providing access to an ashpit for ash removal.


Abbr.for “Architects and Surveyors Institute.”

Asiatic Water Closet

A water closet which has its bowl nearly flush with the floor so that the user adopts a squatting position;widely used in some parts of Asia.


Abbr.for “American Society of Interior Designers.”


In Spanish Colonial architecture,a chapel usually having no permanent priest but relying on the part time assistance of visiting padres.


In Hispanic Colonial architecture,a contributing chapel.


The direction which a building faces with respect to the points of a compass.


A holy water stoup or font.

Asphalt Block

A paving block composed of a mixture of 88 to 92% crushed stone and the balance asphaltic cement.

Asphalt Cement

Asphalt that is refined to meet specifications for paving,industrial,and special purposes;see asphaltic cement.

Asphalt Color Coat

An asphalt surface treatment with a cover of mineral aggregate which has been selected to produce a desired color.

Asphalt Felt

See breather type asphalt felt.

Asphalt Filler

See asphalt joint filler.

Asphalt Joint

filler An asphaltic product used for filling cracks and joints in pavement and other structures.

Asphalt Lamination

A laminate of sheet material,such as paper or felt,which uses asphalt as the adhesive.

Asphalt Overlay

One or more courses of asphalt construction on an existing pavement;generally includes an asphalt leveling course to correct the contour of the old pavement.

Asphalt Paint

A liquid asphaltic product sometimes containing small amounts of other materials such as lampblack,aluminum flakes,and mineral pigments.

Asphalt Panel

See premolded asphalt panel.

Asphalt Paper

A paper sheet material that has been coated,saturated,or laminated with asphalt to increase its toughness and its resistance to water.

Asphalt Pavement

A pavement consisting of a surface course of mineral aggregate,coated and cemented together with asphalt cement on supporting courses.

Asphalt Plank

A plank which is fabricated of a mixture of asphalt fiber and mineral filler,often reinforced with steel or fiberglass mesh;some times contains mineral grits to provide a sandpaper texture.

Asphaltic Macadam

A pavement similar to macadam but having asphalt as the binder in place of tar.


A device which draws a stream of liquid or air through it by means of suction  which is produced by the flow of a fluid through an orifice.


Abbr.for “automatic sprinkler riser.”

Ass Foundation

Any support for a structure which is enlarged beyond the size required for adequate strength;used to provide additional inertia to dissipate or alleviate the undesirable effects of vibration or impact.

Attic Fan

A propeller fan used to exhaust the air within an upper space of a house (such as a garret). 

Attic Order

Small pillars or pilasters decorating the exterior of an attic.

Attic Story

See attic.

Attic Tank

An open tank which is installed above the highest plumbing fixture in a building (e.g. in the attic) and which supplies water to the fixtures by gravity;the filling of the tank is controlled by a float valve.


Said of a doorway having jambs which are inclined slightly inwards,so that the opening is wider at the threshold than at the top.


That part of a theater,school,or public building which is set aside for the audience for listening and viewing.

Auditorium Plan

A plan,1 employed in church architecture where the plan of the sanctuary somewhat resembles a common plan of a modern auditorium.

Auditorium Seating

 Manufactured row chairs for stepped,level,or inclined floors in rooms or areas occupied by an audience.


In ancient churches,that part of the church where the people usually stood to be instructed in the gospel;now called the nave.

Auger Bit

A bit having a square tang,fitted into and rotated by a brace;used for drilling holes in wood.

Augered Pile

A concrete pile which is cast in place in a hole drilled by an auger;may be belled at the bottom;suitable in dry soil.


A building or temple dedicated to the deified Augustus.


In ancient architecture,a court or hall, open court attached to a house.


A small church or chapel.

Auxiliary Rafter

Above a principal rafter,a second principal rafter,occasionally used in a large queenpost truss.

Auxiliary Reinforcement

In a prestressed structural member,any reinforcement in addition to that whose function is prestressing.

Auxiliary Rim Lock

A secondary or extra lock that is surface mounted on a door to provide additional security.

Auxiliary Rope-fastening Device

A device attached to an elevator car,to a counterweight,or to the overhead dead-end rope-hitch support;automatically supports the car or counterweight in case the fastening for the wire rope (cable) fails.