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word of the week: COFFER

2010 February 28
by Caroline Nye Stevens

coffered ceiling at the Cultural Center

COFFER: one of a number of sunken panels (usually in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon) in a  ceiling, soffit or vault. A coffered ceiling usually has a purely decorative purpose, but can also have a more practical purpose in lightening the load of a ceiling or dome as seen below at the Pantheon in Rome.

To the right is one of many coffered ceilings at the Chicago Cultural Center. A coffered ceiling can also be called a lacunar ceiling.