Architectural and Engineering Glossary



A shaded public walk or promenade.

Alarm System

An electrical system that is installed in a building as a protective measure against fire or unauthorized entry.In the event that the system is activated,an alarm (such as an audible signal or flashing light) is turned on;see fire alarm system and burglar alarm system.

Alarm Valve

See wet alarm valve.


1.A piazza,corridor,or covered walk.2.The flank of a building.

Albani Stone

A pepper colored stone used in buildings in ancient Rome before the introduction of marble.


A white lime used for stucco;made by burning marble.


Same as aluminum bronze.


In ancient Roman architecture,a space on the surface of a wall covered with white plaster,located in a public place,on which public announcements and records,etc.were written.


Same as sapwood.


A Moorish or Spanish fortress or castle. 


A metal product clad with an aluminum or aluminumalloy coating,usually as a protection against corrosion.


A small recessed space,opening directly into a larger room.


A moderately light-colored,light-weight hardwood that changes to flesh color or light brown when dried;often stained to simulate cherry,mahogany or walnut;often used as plywood core and crossbanding.

Ale House

In an early British or American community:a village tavern licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.


In ancient Roman architecture,a room in which dice games were played.


1.A minor wing of a building.2.A door jamb.3.A rear pilaster,partially visible within a cluster of columnar elements.4.The wing of the pier on both sides of an engaged column.

Alexandrian Work

Same as opus Alexandrinum.

Alexandrinum Opus

Same as opus Alexandrinum.


A decorative molding enclosing a door or arch.


A fortress and palace built by the Moorish kings of Granada in southern Spain,completed in the 14th century.


Ornamentation that resembles the fanciful style used at the Alhambra.


Tile work which is executed withazulejos;used to decorate pavements and walls,especially in patios.


The part of a surveying instrument which consists of a sighting device,with index,and reading or recording accessories.


The transfer of title to real property by one person to another.


Having a wing-like shape or extensions. 

Aligning Punch

A punch used for lining up mating holes prior to riveting or bolting;a drift punch.


In ancient Roman architecture,a room used by bathers for anointing themselves.


A principal constituent of portland cement clinker;primarily tricalcium silicate,but includes small amounts of magnesium oxide,aluminum oxide,ferric oxide,and other oxides.


Same as live.


Any of the various chemically active bases such as the soluble salts of metals,e.g.the water-soluble salts of sodium and potassium which occur in constituents of concrete and mortar that may result in deleterious expansion. 

Alkali Reactivity

Of a concrete aggregate,its susceptibility to alkali aggregate reaction.

Alkali Resistance

1.The degree to which a paint resists reaction with alkaline materials such as lime,cement,plaster,soap,etc.a necessary property for paints in bathrooms,kitchens,laundries.2.The degree to which a porcelain enamel will resist attack by aqueous alkaline solutions.

Alkali Soil

A soil,with salts injurious to plant life,having a pH value of 8.5 or higher.

Alkali-silica Reaction

In portland cement,the reaction between the alkalies and particular siliceous rocks and/or minerals which are present in some aggregates;may result in abnormal expansion and cracking of concrete under service conditions.

Alkaline Soil

Soil containing soluble salts of magnesium,sodium,or the like,and having a pH value of between7.3 and 8.5.

Alkyd Paint

A paint using an alkyd resin as the vehicle for the pigment.

Alkyd Resin

One of a group of thermoplastic synthetic resins;used in bonding materials,in adhesives,and in paints and varnishes.

All-in Contract

Same as turn key job.

All-risk Insurance

On a construction project,insurance that protects the policyholder against all risks other than those which are specifically excluded by the policy.

All-rowlock Wall

See rowlock cavity wall.

All-stretcher Bond

A masonry bond,6 showing only stretchers on the face of the brick wall;same as stretcher bond.


A broad walk,planted with trees on either side,usually at least twice as high as the width of the walk.


A part of a wall which is thinner than the rest,esp.the spandrel under a window.


A figurative representation in which the meaning is conveyed symbolically.

Allen Head

A screw having a hexagonally shaped recess in its head.

Allen Wrench

A wrench for Allen head screws;a steel bar,hexagonal in shape,which is bent to form a right angle.


1.A service way providing a secondary public means of access to abutting properties;a narrow passageway between or behind buildings,sometimes permitting traffic for only one lane of cars.2.A garden walk between rows of trees;an allée.

Alligator Hide

A surface condition on porce- lain enamel,characterized by an extreme roughness;a severe case of orange peel.

Alligator Shears,lever Shears

Wide-jawed shears,resembling the jaws of an alligator,used to cut sheets of metal;operated by a foot lever.

Alligator Wrench

A wrench having V-shaped,fixed serrated jaws;used to turn cylindrical parts, fitting pipe.