Pun Alley 03-18-2011

-A A +A

Some interesting facts on architecture

By Dick Frank

Some weeks ago a newspaper article reported that luxury home magazines Traditional Home, Elle Decor, and Architectural Digest had taken a big hit from the recession. Now all of them are getting remodeled with new editors and updated publication approaches.

Not wanting to be left behind, I did some research on architecture and uncovered some interesting facts for Pun Alley.

Early drawings for construction were done in ink, which took a long time to dry. Blowing on the ink hastened this process. The finished products were called blewprints.

Office flunkies were usually given this job and they devised a system of opening windows to create cross-ventilation. To this day, they are still called draftsmen.

For years, roofs were flat and covered with tar. Roof pitch referred to this process.

Sloped roofs became popular along riverbanks as the first settlers used lumber from their crudely constructed boats to construct their homes, hence the term “rafters.”

When a new home was completed, the local news reporters would come out to interview the owners for an article in the newspaper. If the home was very large, they might come out a second time. This is where we got the terms, “one and two story” homes.

Before indoor plumbing, chamber pots were kept in all the bedrooms at night. These were prone to being kicked over and spilled. Later it became fashionable to have a shelf above the bed for the full pots. These shelves became more and more elaborate and were decorated with lace and fabric. This was the origin of the canopee bed.

Architects’ problems

The architect displayed his drawings for the new mansion. However, the customer hadn’t been able to decide on the appearance of the central staircase. So the architect drew blank stairs.

The lady architect planned the house’s vast, vaulted living room with beams supported at one end. She drew a grand design, but the homeowner kept fiddling with the plans. Why cantilever alone?

An architect was having a difficult time with a prospective homebuilder. He pleaded, “But can’t you give some idea of the general type of house you want to build?”

“Well,” replied the man hesitantly, “all I know is it must go with an antique doorknob my wife bought in Vermont.”


The convicted architect soon discovered that prison walls were not made to scale.

Old architects never die; they just lose their structures.

An architect for a church would draw a cross section.

If you think good architecture is expensive, try bad architecture.

The architect said, “It’s like cad is always plotting against me, trying to make me offset.”

The architect designing the stairwell had to retrace his steps.

Inside story

The architect’s designs were generally boxy on the outside, but, once entering one of his buildings, a visitor was greeted by curved walls, sweeping staircases, rounded doors, graceful arches, and so on.

In a news interview, the architect was asked what prompted this unique style of his. “Very simple,” he replied. “My father was an avid poker player. The only advice he gave me as a young man was repeated over and over, ‘Son, you’ll never fill an inside straight.’”

Prime suspect

A workman was killed at a construction site. The police began questioning a number of the other workers. Based with past brushes with the law, many of these workers were considered prime suspects. They were a motley crew.

The electrician was suspected of wiretapping once but was never charged.

The carpenter thought he was a stud. He tried to frame another man one time.

The glazier went to great panes to conceal his past. He still claims that he didn’t do anything; that he was framed.

The painter had a brush with the law several years ago.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor was known to pack heat. He was arrested once but duct the charges.

The mason was suspect because he gets stoned regularly.

The cabinetmaker is an accomplished counter fitter.

The autopsy led the police to arrest the carpenter, who subsequently confessed. The evidence against him was irrefutable, because it was found that the workman, when he died, was hammered.

Dick and his wife Jane live in Oak Run.