How much do you know about architecture?

By: Carolyn Brooks Fleming
Estimated Completion Time
6 min
How much do you know about architecture?
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Test your knowledge, brick by brick!
Which architectural style features windows with pointed arches, vaulted roofs, and flying buttresses?
Greek Revival.
Gothic.
Victorian.
Prairie.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Gothic style features pointed arches, vaulted roofs, and flying buttresses. Verticality is prominent. Famous Gothic cathedrals include Notre Dame, Cologne, and Reims.

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The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., features what kind of curve?
A cissoid of Diocles.
A parabola.
A cycloid.
A catenary curve.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Gateway Arch features a catenary curve, which is the shape that a chain makes when hanging by its own weight. Of course, for the Gateway Arch, this curve is inverted.

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In architecture, what is the difference between a gargoyle and a grotesque?
A gargoyle is humanlike, while a grotesque is animalistic.
A gargoyle serves a function, directing water away from the side of a building, while a grotesque is merely ornamental.
They are synonymous.
A gargoyle smiles, while a grotesque frowns.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Gargoyles and grotesques look similar - usually featuring frightening faces - but only gargoyles have spouts that direct water away from the side of a building. Gargoyles that have features of several different animals are called chimeras.

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Which American architect is associated with the Prairie style?
Peter Harrison.
Frank Gehry.
Eero Saarinen.
Frank Lloyd Wright.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Frank Lloyd Wright popularized the Prairie style, which has dramatic horizontals and limited decoration. He also designed the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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What are the characteristics of a Corinthian column?
The shaft is fluted, and the capital is decorated with scroll-shaped ornaments called volutes.
The shaft is smooth, and the capital is smooth and round.
The shaft is fluted, and the capital is decorated with small scrolls, leaves, and flowers.
The shaft is smooth, and the capital is decorated with small scrolls, leaves, and flowers.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A Corinthian column has a fluted shaft. The capital flares outward and it is decorated with small scrolls, acanthus leaves, and flowers. The Pantheon in Rome features Corinthian columns.

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Which two architects are most frequently referred to as the "Father of the Skyscraper"?
William Le Baron Jenney and Louis Henri Sullivan.
Louis Sullivan and Louis Henri Sullivan.
Louis Sullivan and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
William Le Baron Jenney and Dankmar Adler.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Jenney incorporated steel in his taller designs. He designed the Home Insurance Company Building in Chicago. Sullivan contributed new functional design for tall buildings. He designed the Wainwright Building in St. Louis.

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What is a keystone?
The first stone laid in a foundation.
The center stone at the top of an arch.
The stone in a door frame where the lock mechanism is installed.
A stone that is round on one end, flat on the other.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A keystone is the center stone at the top of an arch. Both sides of the arch lean toward this pressure point.

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Which popular catalog company, based in Chicago, sold kits for building houses, including bungalows, Colonials, Cape Cods, and other styles?
Wish Book.
Whole Earth.
Sears Catalog.
Eagle Stamps.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sears kit homes were built between 1908 and 1940. To identify a house as a Sears kit home, look for shipping labels on the back of millwork and moldings. Plumbing and electrical systems were sold separately.

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What is trompe l'oeil?
A winning hand in bridge.
A skyscraper.
The Trump Tower in Paris.
Decorative painting that fools the eye.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Trompe l'oeil is decorative painting that fools the eye. Such painting may depict windows, columns, clouds, angels, or other decorative items that distract from the painted surface.

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Which architect is famous for designing the Barcelona chair?
Frank Lloyd Wright.
Charles Eames.
Marcel Breuer.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the Barcelona chair and stool to furnish his German Pavilion at the International Exibition in Barcelona, in 1929.

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What is unique about the 1,410-foot-long bridge over Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in China, which opened in 2016?
It is made of knotted ropes.
It is made of glass.
It features the world's tallest support beams.
It is the widest bridge in the world.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Visitors can see through the bridge to the canyon floor below. Plans include adding swings and a bungee jump, and the bridge may serve as a runway for fashion shows.

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In Islamic architecture, what is the term for a rectangular frame around an arched opening?
A muqarna.
An iwan.
A pishtaq.
An aqueduct.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The rectangular frame around an archway is called a pishtaq. A gateway with a pishtaq is often found at the entrance to a mosque, caravanserai, madrasah, or mausoleum.

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In what architectural style is the sunburst motif popular?
Art Deco.
Victorian.
Cape Cod.
Gothic.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Art Deco features a number of popular motifs, including sunbursts, zigzags, chevrons, and sweeping curves.

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What is a parapet?
The square block at the base of a column.
An ornamentel corner joint.
A low wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony.
The triangular area between two adjoining arches.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A parapet is a long wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony. Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a roof parapet should be at least 39 inches high.

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Which style of column is featured on the Colosseum in Rome?
Ionic.
Doric and Corinthian.
Corinthian.
Tuscan, Ionic, and Corinthian.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Colosseum in Rome features Tuscan columns on the first level, Ionic columns on the second level, and Corinthian columns on the third level. Every level had eighty arches.

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What are two prominent features of Colonial homes?
The façade is symmetrical, with the door in the middle, and the windows have many small square panes.
Windows are often elliptical or arched, and balconies feature lacy ironwork railings.
The façade is asymmetrical and the windows are tall and narrow.
The façade features entryway columns and the second-story windows have curved heads.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Colonial homes feature symmetrical façades and windows with many small panes. These homes have steep roofs, and the bedrooms are on the second floor.

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Which man-made structure held the record for being the tallest, for almost 4,000 years?
Chichen Itza in Mexico.
The Leshan Giant Buddha in China.
The Great Pyramid of Giza.
The Galata Tower in Istanbul.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Great Pyramid of Giza held the record for being the tallest man-made structure for 3,871 years, until 1311, when the Lincoln Cathedral in England was built. The pyramid is currently about 455 feet tall, due to erosion, but it probably stood 480 feet when it was built.

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What is a coffered ceiling?
A coffered ceiling has a cut-out design in the middle.
A coffered ceiling is sloped, following the roof line.
A coffered ceiling has a bumpy texture.
A coffered ceiling has sunken panels, which are square, rectangular, or octagonal.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A coffered ceiling has sunken panels, which may be square, rectangular, or octagonal. Such a design can provide a sense of order to crowded public spaces. The word "coffer" originally meant "basket" or "hollowed container."

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What is a bungalow?
A rectangular one-and-a-half story house.
A square two-story house.
A long, narrow, one-story house.
A hiding place, similar to a foxhole.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A bungalow is rectangular, with one-and-a half stories. In India, the word "bungalow" means a small, thatched home.

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What style of home is long and narrow, with each room extending the full width of the house and leading into the next?
Pueblo.
Ranch.
Shotgun.
Saltbox.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The idea of a shotgun home is, hypothetically, if a shotgun is fired through the front door, the shot will exit through the back door.

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What architectural marvel was known only to local peasants until it was discovered by archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911?
Petra in Wadi Musa, Jordan.
Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Machu Picchu in Cuzco, Peru.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Experts believe Machu Picchu was probably a royal estate or religions site. It was abandoned in the 16th century, following an invasion by the Spanish. The stones of Machu Picchu were fitted together without mortar.

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Which architectural style features stucco or adobe walls, roof beams that project through the walls, and tile or brick floors?
Ranch.
Craftsman.
Creole.
Pueblo.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Pueblo architecture features stucco or adobe walls, roof beams that project through the walls, and tile or brick floors. The style also features flat roofs and earth-toned walls.

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Arch, truss, suspension, and cantilever are all types of what?
Cathedral ceilings.
Bridges.
Windows.
Doorways.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Arch, truss, suspension, and cantilever are all types of bridges. Other types include beam, tied arch, and cable-slayed.

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Which home style features a single story, attached garage, picture windows, and sliding doors that lead to patios?
Tudor.
International.
Ranch.
Pueblo.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Ranch style homes feature a single story, attached garage, picture windows, and a patio. Ranches are associated with suburbia and casual living.

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Who popularized the Craftsman style in his magazine, "The Craftsman," in the early 20th century?
Gustav Stickley.
Frank Gehry.
Philip Johnson.
I.M. Pei.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Gustav Stickley popularized the Craftsman style. Such houses are built low, with little ornamentation, to blend in with the landscape.

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Which skyscraper, completed in 1973, was sheathed in Italian Carrara marble that later cracked and bowed, and a slab detached and landed on the roof of a neighboring building?
One of the Seven Sisters of Moscow.
The Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai.
The Messeturm in Frankfurt.
The Aon Center in Chicago, originally the Standard Oil Building.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Aon Center, originally called the Standard Oil Building, was resurfaced with granite after the marble started to fail. The renovation cost more than $80 million. On a side note, the loose marble slab hit the roof of the Prudential Center.

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Which architectural wonder has mortar made with sticky rice?
Machu Picchu in Peru.
The Grand Mosque of Dakar.
The Great Wall of China.
The Taj Mahal in India.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Great Wall of China has mortar made with sticky rice. Amylopectin makes rice sticky and, conveniently, makes mortar strong. During construction of the Great Wall, as many as 400,000 people died, and many were buried within the wall. Mourners brought roosters to help guide souls away from the wall.

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What is the literal meaning of "baroque"?
Imperfect pearl.
Broken heart.
Holy splendor.
Elaborate sculpture.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Baroque" pearls are imperfect - they are asymmetrical and may not be smooth. Some are shaped like coins, some like eggs or crosses or hearts.

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Following the Chinese principles of Feng Shui, how does chi flow?
From the ground and out through the roof.
From north to south.
In through the door and out through the windows.
It follows a room's traffic patterns.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Feng Shui means "wind and water." "Chi" means "energy." Chi flows in through the door and out through windows, and ideally the chi should flow gently throughout a space, without being blocked.

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What color of tile, reserved for buildings build for the Emperor of China, is still seen on most buildings in the Forbidden City?
Black.
Yellow.
Green.
Red.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Yellow means respect to the Chinese, and only Imperial palaces may be topped with yellow roofs. The Forbidden City, which is no longer forbidden, features a symmetrical plan.

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Which architect, whose works are prevalent in Barcelona, Spain, favored avant-garde designs with curves and vibrant colors?
Felix Candela.
Bernardo Giner de los Rios.
Santiago Calatrava.
Antoni Gaudi.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Gaudi's work was not fully appreciated until years after his death in 1926. The Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is Gaudi's most famous work, even though it is unfinished.

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Riser, nosing, and newel are all components of what?
A window.
Floor joists.
A staircase.
Roof supports.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Riser, nosing, and newel are all components of a staircase. A riser is a vertical board that determines the height of each step; a nosing is the edge of the tread that hangs over the face of the riser; and a newel is the post at the base of a banister.

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For architect I.M. Pei, what is the "impossible dream"?
Bringing together the modern and the traditional.
Creating the perfect floor plan.
Building a skyscraper more than 200 stories tall.
Designing a building that will please the architect, the client, and the public.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

For I.M. Pei, the "impossible dream" is bringing together the modern and the traditional. Pei is known for Brutalism, which features bold, utilitarian forms.

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In architecture, what is "vanity height"?
False statistics about the dimensions of skyscrapers and monuments, meant to increase tourism.
The standard height requirement for countertops.
A branch of tourism that focuses on the world's tallest buildings and monuments.
The difference between a building's highest usable space and its pinnacle.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Without vanity height, or unusable space at the top of skyscrapers meant to improve their appearance and stats, many buildings would drop down the list of the world's tallest. For example, about 29% of Dubai's Burj Khalifa is vanity height.

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New York's Empire State Building was the world's tallest building until 1972, when which building surpassed it?
Chicago's Aon Center.
New York's World Trade Center.
Chicago's Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower.
Kuala Lampur's Petronas Twin Towers.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper. The World Trade Center, which had two 110-story towers, was destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001.

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