A building, like the human body, is made up of different parts that have specific names. A window is not just a window, but there many different kinds of windows—double hung, casement, pivot, awning, hopper, sliding, etc. And you can break down a window into different components and each has a name too. The goal of “What is this?” is to help you discover ways of describing the buildings that are around us. If nothing else, you’ll be able to impress (or bore?) friends and family with your new knowledge of archi-speak. Ok, onto our first architectural feature!
You’re looking at brick corbels on top of a building in Pioneer Square. So what’s a corbel? It’s an arrangement of stepped brick, stone, or other masonry material in which each course (or horizontal layer of repeating elements) extends farther out from the vertical wall than the course below. In the photo shown, the corbels are the inverted triangular-shaped features. Corbels are not always this shape or design, but the idea is similar. Now go out and i.d. some corbels!