An Inside Look at Architecture Lingo

An intricate and technical field, the world of architecture produces a unique dictionary of jargon all its own. At Optima, our team works in a highly collaborative atmosphere where we all, from architects to property managers to construction superintendents, share ideas and hold conversations across disciplines — so naturally we all encounter the lingo of our architects. Now we’re decoding the secret language that we’ve all come to know and love.


Better known as Building Information Modeling, BIM is a 3D model-based process that has majorly changed the world of architecture. It’s a highly collaborative process that spans into the planning, design, construction, operations and management of buildings.

But BIM is more than just a technology or a phrase when we expanded our offices to have a second location in Arizona, BIM became the language that connected our team, even across states. Using the technology as a streamlined method of communication, our architects in Glencoe and Scottsdale effectively craft and manage projects as if they were in the same room. 

Optima Kierland Apartments.
Optima Kierland Apartments.

Building Envelope 

A building envelope is the exterior shell of a building that acts as a barrier against the elements. This maintains a dry, heated/cooled indoor environment and helps in temperature control. The design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice and can vary based on the overall look of the building. 

In many of our projects, such as Optima Kierland Apartments, the building envelope is a Low-E, UV protected laminated glass with a heat reflective coating. Beyond providing functionality and sustainability, this oft-implemented technique in our Optima projects creates a cohesive design language of beautiful, sleek exteriors. 

Cantilevered roofs and balconies at Sterling Ridge.
Cantilevered roofs and balconies at Sterling Ridge.


A cantilever is any rigid structural element, such as a beam or a plate, that’s anchored at one end to a support, allowing the other end to overhang without support or obstruction. The balancing act performed by cantilevers creates gravity-defying architectural protrusions, often serving as stunning design elements. 

At Optima Signature, we used cantilevered slabs to provide a column-free living room with breathtaking, sweeping views of Chicago. A tool employed to create our mindful, simple and sleek Modernist silhouettes, cantilevers are yet another piece of our common architectural tongue.

Louvers at Optima Sonoran Village.
Louvers at Optima Sonoran Village.


Louvers are angled slats fixed at regular intervals in a door, shutter or screen to allow air or light to pass through. Originating in the Middle Ages to help with kitchen ventilation, louvers have evolved into an element used to redirect light or add privacy. Louvers serve just this purpose, paired with perforated sun screens and our signature vertical landscaping system, at Optima Sonoran Village

Stay tuned for future features on the world of architecture lingo at Optima.


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Glencoe, IL

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