An Inside Look at Architect Lingo, Part II

Our team is joined together by a love of exceptional design so naturally, design is our shared language. From property managers to accountants to architects, we’ve all come to know and love the architect lingo that helps us communicate our passions, our creations and our vision. In celebration — and in follow up to February’s blog we’re sharing Part II of our inside look at architect lingo.

Juxtaposed facade and surrounding landscape at Optima Sonoran Village
Juxtaposed facade and surrounding landscape at Optima Sonoran Village.


Juxtaposition refers to the fact of two things being placed close together with a contrasting effect. It’s the intentional creation of, and analysis of, a relationship that brings about exciting new realizations and discoveries, bringing added layers of meaning to each individual object and their relation to one another. 

In architecture, the use of juxtaposition becomes particularly striking, manifesting on a large scale in entire building facades. With everything we build at Optima, we consider the relationship — or juxtaposition — between the built and natural environment. How does each entity influence and illuminate the other to positive effect? In our desert dwellings, juxtaposition occurs between the organic beauty of the arid landscape and the bold, Modernist facade of the houses, built in concrete and glass to intentionally illuminate their counterpart. 

Looking out the windows at Optima Biltmore Towers
Looking out the windows at Optima Biltmore Towers.


Derived from the Latin word fenestrae (windows), fenestration is defined as the arrangement of any holes in a building’s facade. More specifically, this usually refers to the doors and windows on the elevation of a building. 

From the most basic standpoint, fenestration allows for the entry and exit of people into and out of a structure. That being said, fenestration historically posed a challenge to architects, because poking holes in a structure can weaken its resiliency. With Modern construction and increasingly durable building hardware, architects are freed up to explore fenestration with more liberty and inventiveness, going beyond the practical to examine decorative approaches.

The terraced design of Optima Camelview Village
The terraced design of Optima Camelview Village.


Terraces originated as a series of flat areas made on a slope for cultivation purposes, but have evolved into any level or paved area next to a building. Their uses vary widely, from still being tied to agricultural practices to now being a place of leisure and pleasure. 

At Optima, our approach to the terrace is with respect to its landscaping origins we employ terraces that allow our buildings, and their residents, to live in harmony with the surrounding landscape. We see the relationship between cultivating plantlife and cultivating relaxing spaces as intrinsically related.

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

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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