A ceiling is an overhead interior surface that covers the upper limit of a room. It is generally not a structural element, but a finished surface concealing the underside of the floor or roof structure above.

  • A cathedral ceiling is any tall ceiling area similar to those in a church. Not everyone calls a cathedral ceiling by that term. It is also sometimes called a tray ceiling or a vaulted ceiling, and it can be enclosed with sheet rock or open to the attic rafters, depending on how it was designed.
  • A dropped ceiling is one in which the finished surface is constructed anywhere from a few inches to several feet below the structure above it. In contemporary construction this is typically done with an acoustic ceiling tile. This may be done for aesthetic purposes, such as achieving a desirable ceiling height; or practical purposes such as providing a space for HVAC or piping. An inverse of this would be a raised floor.
  • A concave or barrel shaped ceiling is curved or rounded, usually for visual or acoustical value.
  • A coffered ceiling is divided into a grid of recessed square or octagonal panels, also called a lacunar ceiling.
  • A cove ceiling uses a curved plaster transition between wall and ceiling; it is named for cove molding, a molding with a concave curve.
  • Ceilings have frequently been decorated with fresco painting, mosaic tiles and other surface treatments. While hard to execute (at least in place) a decorated ceiling has the advantage that it is largely protected from damage by fingers and dust. In the past, however, this was more than compensated for by the damage from smoke from candles or a fireplace. Many historic buildings have celebrated ceilings. Perhaps the most famous is the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo.
  • A tray ceiling is a rectangular architectural feature that is either inverted or recessed. Tray ceilings can be plain, ornate, subtle or dramatic.
  • A shed ceiling has an angle, similar to a cathedral ceiling, to the central peak. However, the other side of the peak is a solid vertical wall to the floor.
  • A popcorn ceiling, also known as an acoustic ceiling, is a term for a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment used from the late 1950s into the 1980s in residential construction.

Coffer: A recessed panel in a ceiling.  Uses can include acoustic control, daylight harvesting and even taking weight out of a ceiling to lighten the structural load.

  • A coffer (or coffering) in architecture, is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit or vault.  A series of these sunken panels were used as decoration for a ceiling or a vault, also called caissons (‘boxes”), or lacunaria (“spaces, openings”), so that a coffered ceiling can be called a lacunar ceiling: the strength of the structure is in the framework of the coffers.
  • A prominent example of Roman coffering, employed to lighten the weight of the dome, can be found in the ceiling of the rotunda dome in the Pantheon, Rome.

Cantilever:  A beam or other projection that is supported at only one end and projects beyond.

  • A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress.  Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs. This is in contrast to a simply supported beam such as those found in a post and lintel system. A simply supported beam is supported at both ends with loads applied between the supports.
  • Cantilevers are widely found in construction, notably in cantilever bridges and balconies (see corbel). In cantilever bridges the cantilevers are usually built as pairs, with each cantilever used to support one side of a central section.

Beam:  A beam is a horizontal structural element that is capable of withstanding load primarily by resisting bending. The bending force induced into the material of the beam as a result of the external loads, own weight, span and external reactions to these loads is called a bending moment.

  • Beams are traditionally descriptions of building or civil engineering structural elements, but smaller structures such as truck or automobile frames, machine frames, and other mechanical or structural systems contain beam structures that are designed and analyzed in a similar fashion.
  • A squared-off log or a large, oblong piece of timber, metal, or stone used especially as a horizontal support in construction.
  • Nautical: A transverse structural member of a ship’s frame, used to support a deck and to brace the sides against stress.

Moment of force (often just moment) is the tendency of a force to twist or rotate an object; see torque for details. This is an important, basic concept in engineering and physics.

  • The moment arm is the perpendicular distance from the point of rotation, to the line of action of the force.
  • The moment may be thought of as a measure of the tendency of the force to cause rotation about an imaginary axis through a point.
  • Note: In mechanical and civil engineering, “moment” and “torque” have different meanings, while in physics they are synonyms.

Torque: Torque, moment or moment of force is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist to an object.

  • Loosely speaking, torque is a measure of the turning force on an object such as a bolt or a flywheel. For example, pushing or pulling the handle of a wrench connected to a nut or bolt produces a torque (turning force) that loosens or tightens the nut or bolt.
  • The magnitude of torque depends on three quantities: the force applied, the length of the lever arm connecting the axis to the point of force application, and the angle between the force vector and the lever arm. 

A shear stress, is defined as the component of stress coplanar with a material cross section. Shear stress arises from the force vector component parallel to the cross section. Normal stress, on the other hand, arises from the force vector component perpendicular or antiparallel to the material cross section on which it acts.

  • noun Physic.  the external force acting on an object or surface parallel to the slope or plane in which it lies; the stress tending to produce shear.
  • Force tending to cause deformation of a material by slippage along a plane or planes parallel to the imposed stress. The resultant shear is of great importance in nature, being intimately related to the downslope movement of earth materials and to earthquakes. Shear stress may occur in solids or liquids; in the latter it is related to fluid viscosity.

Post and lintel:  a structure consisting of vertical beams (posts) supporting a horizontal beam (lintel)

  • Whew! Finally an easy one!!
  • The simplest illustration of load and support in construction is the post-and-lintel system, in which two upright members (posts, columns, piers) hold up a third member (lintel, beam, girder, rafter) laid horizontally across their top surfaces. This is the basis for the evolution of all openings. But, in its pure form, the post-and-lintel is seen only in colonnades and in framed structures, since the posts of doors, windows, ceilings, and roofs are part of the wall.

Denver-based firm expands resources and capacity.

Cuningham Group’s presence in Rocky Mountain West strengthens. 

MINNEAPOLIS––International design firm Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. (Cuningham Group®) has announced that Hutton Architecture Studio, a Denver-based studio specializing in sustainably designed environments for learning and worship, will be joining their organization. The combination of these two firms is a natural fit, as both Cuningham Group and Hutton Architecture Studio focus on complementary project types and are leading firms committed to sustainability.  The addition of Hutton Architecture Studio provides a fifth location for Cuningham Group’s offices nationally.

“In joining forces with Hutton Architecture Studio, Cuningham Group will grow its presence in the realms of educational facilities and houses of worship particularly in the Rocky Mountain West,” said Timothy Dufault, AIA, LEED® A.P. President and CEO of Cuningham Group. “Hutton Architecture Studio brings tremendous expertise in sustainable design as well – synergizing perfectly with Cuningham Group’s core values,” said Dufault.

The merging of these two firms is the direct result of Tim Dufault’s and Paul Hutton’s work on the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education (AIA CAE) over the past four years, in addition to a collaboration on the design of “Classrooms for the Year 2025” for a local Denver area school district, designed for when today’s first graders graduate.  Cuningham Group and Hutton Architecture Studio also worked together as the design charrette lead and sustainable design lead respectively on a new elementary school in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“We are thrilled to be joining such a successful and highly regarded firm,” said Paul Hutton, AIA, LEED® BD+C. “This exciting new relationship will foster innovative ideas, lead to groundbreaking projects, and most importantly continue our collaborative leadership in progressive design for our clients,” Hutton said.

Recognized as an innovator in daylighting and sustainable design, Hutton’s projects focus on the use of recycled and environmentally friendly materials while creating low-maintenance environments perfectly suited for a client’s needs. This includes the firm’s recent role implementing the State of Colorado Governor’s Energy Office High Performance Building Program as well as moderating the AIA +2030 Professional Series in Denver. The Denver office will continue to provide leadership in all phases of architectural design including site selection, master planning, programming, interior design, and sustainable design to a wide variety of clients throughout Denver and the Rocky Mountain West.

Cuningham Group is a champion of sustainable design and instills this consciousness throughout the entire organization. Cuningham Group developed criteria to evaluate the overall success of projects based upon a “Triple Bottom Line” sustainability business model of “People, Profit, and Planet.” This approach best serves clients who seek high-quality architectural design that inspires people while making optimum use of resources and for those who seek a design process that respects, articulates, and fulfills their values and goals.

“Our collaborative venture with Hutton Architecture Studio will allow us to continue our leadership in sustainability,” Dufault said. “We are also excited by the opportunity to build on Hutton’s educational design experience to continue our initiative in designing engaging learning environments,” he said.

About Cuningham Group

Cuningham Group® transcends tradition with architecture, interior design, urban design and planning services for a diverse mix of client and project types.  The firm’s client-centered, collaborative approach incorporates trend-setting architecture and environmental responsiveness to create projects that weave seamlessly into the urban fabric. Consistently recognized as a leader in a variety of markets, Cuningham Group has grown to over 240 employees with offices in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Biloxi, Denver, Seoul and Beijing. For more information, please visit www.cuningham.com.

Rafters:  the wooden structural support beams for a roof, sometimes visible on the exterior for certain building types and styles.

  • A rafter is one of a series of sloped structural members (beams) that extend from the ridge or hip to the wall-plate, downslope perimeter or eave, and that are designed to support the roof deck and its associated loads.
  • Not to be confused with:
    • a person who engages in the sport or pastime of rafting.
    • a flock, especially of turkeys.

Valley:  A valley is point in a roof where rafters of different angles come together.

Valley Rafter: a rafter that is attached to the ridge at the top and the valley at the bottom.

  • A part of the roof frame that extends diagonally from an inside corner plate to the ridge board at the intersection of two roof surfaces.
  • In a roof framing system, the rafter in the line of the Valley; connects the ridge to the wall plate along the meeting line of two inclined sides of a roof which are perpendicular to each other.

Truncated: cut off or cut short, usually in reference to a roof.

  • To shorten by cutting off a part; cut short.
  • A gable roof or hipped roof whose top has been cut off, forming a flat horizontal surface.

Truss:  A structural framework of wood or metal, esp one arranged in triangles, used to support a roof, bridge, etc.

  • Any of various structural frames constructed on principles other than the geometric rigidity of the triangle or deriving stability from other factors, as the rigidity of joints, the abutment of masonry, or the stiffness of beams.
  • In architecture and structural engineering, a truss is a structure comprising one or more triangular units constructed with straight members whose ends are connected at joints referred to as nodes. External forces and reactions to those forces are considered to act only at the nodes and result in forces in the members which are either tensile or compressive forces. Moments (torques) are explicitly excluded because, and only because, all the joints in a truss are treated as revolutes.

Truss Plan: A truss plan will show every truss that will make up a roof system. Each truss will be numbered and will be shown on shop drawing with dimensions and specifications.

Revolute Joint (also called pin joint or hinge joint):  is a one degree of freedom kinematic pair used in mechanisms.  Revolute joints provide single-axis rotation function used in many places such as door hinges, folding mechanisms, and other uni-axial rotation devices.

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