Design Quiz: Test Your Architecture IQ

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Think you know a balustrade from a newel? Or a louver from a flue? What characterizes colonial-style architecture, and how did painted ladies get their name? Just for fun, take this quick quiz to see just how architecturally savvy you are. 

1. Which of these is a Doric column?

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2. What's the difference between beadboard and wainscoting? 
A. Wainscoting is applied to only the bottom 36" of a wall, while beadboard refers to a full wall of paneling.
B. Beadboard is decorative, while wainscoting is applied to help prevent dampness. 
C. Wainscoting refers to both a wood panel and the frame, where beadboard is simply a type of panel.
D. Beadboard is a row of narrow wood planks lined up vertically, while wainscoting runs horizontally.

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3. Where does the term "painted ladies" come from?
A. The term originated in the Charles Village neighborhood in Baltimore, where homeowners began to paint their homes in the 1840s according to the trends in ladies' fashions.
B. "Painted ladies" was a term for prostitutes in the 19th century, and the use of the term to refer to homes was originally used derogatorily by upper-class individuals who found the use of vibrant colors on exteriors to be gaudy.
C. The term came into usage in the 1960s when restorers began to repaint the homes in their original colors.
D. Writers Elizabeth and Michael Larsen used the term to refer to Victorian homes in San Francision in their 1978 book Painted Ladies: San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians. 

4. What is a dormer?
A. A structural element of a building that protrudes from a sloping roof.  
B. A window that is parallel to the slope of a roof (like a skylight).
C. The horizontal decorative molding that crowns a building.
D. The triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof.

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5. What kind of roof is on the larger portion of this house?
A. Gable roof
B. Gambrel roof
C. Hip roof
D. Mansard roof

6. Why are basements more prevalent on the East Coast and in the American Midwest than in southern regions?
A. Basements were built as refrigeration areas to make the best use of the colder climates in the Northeast and Midwest.
B. Basements were originally popular in denser East Coast cities, given that they maximized vertical space, and the trend never spread to the south, where much early architecture was based on a plantation model, where homes were more spread out.
C. The basement is more prevalent in the English-influenced architecture of the East Coast and Midwest than in the Spanish- and French-influenced architecture of the south.
D. The foundation needs to be below the frost line in colder climates to prevent building shifts. 

7. What is a newel?
A. A spindle that supports the coping of a parapet.
B. A wall-like barrier at the edge of a roof or balcony.
C. An upright post that supports the handrail of a stair banister.
D. A structural piece of stone, wood, or metal protruding from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight.

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8. [In honor of the Golden Girls,] what constitutes a lanai?

A. An enclosed room that allows enjoyment of the landscape while being sheltered from adverse weather conditions, like a sunroom.
B. A roofed, open-sided veranda, patio, or porch originating in Hawaii.
C. A pillared gallery built around a central structure, whose name derives from a Hindi term.
D. A paved outdoor space.

9. What is the purpose of a louver?
A. To regulate the airflow in a chimney, 
B. To retain the heat created by a fire. 
C. To channel exhaust fumes from a chimney outside.
D. To admit light and air but to keep air, rain, noise, and direct sunshine out.

10. Which of these are characteristics of colonial style architecture?
A. Symmetry
B. A long, rectangular floorplan
C. A staircase at the back of the house
D. Rooms that connect to each other rather than to a central hall.

All done? Hop on over here for the answers. Give yourself ten points for a correct answer, and share your score in the comments!


(Images: 1. Leela Cyd Ross/Jonya and Brad's Modern A-Frame, 2. WP Clip Art, 3. Sarah Han/ Apartment Therapy, 4. Jill Slater/Apartment Therapy, 5. deviantART via Apartment Therapy)

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Carolyn is a freelance writer and photographer, as well as a lover of all things colorful and quirky. She grew up in Texas and settled in Chicago by way of L.A., England and Paris. Currently, she is a professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.

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