Updated: Dec 31, 2021
English for architects and landscape architects can be very specific however in any business setting it can also seem like everyone in the office is speaking only with phrasal verbs and idioms. To help you build this essential vocabulary, every month I'll update this page with the best and most common phrasal verbs used by architects and landscape architects in their work. I'll focus on using real-life examples listed below in alphabetical order.
Remember: it's important to learn phrasal verbs and idioms in the context of how you might use them so for example learning them in the situation you are more likely to use them in. I discuss this in more detail on Episode 4 of the Think Big Podcast.
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aim for: to strive to accomplish a particular goal (aim for + noun).
We are aiming for a maximum amount of sunlight in this room.
aim to do (something): to plan or hope to achieve something (aim to + verb).
We aim to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide levels by planting trees.
apply to (apply something to something: to make use of something for a practical or real situation)
We applied the rules of the standard to the design of the new public space
allow for: to take things into account when making plans
We need to allow for the extra centimetre of overlap, so it will fit correctly.
back up: in this context (to become congested)
The traffic is starting to back up on the freeway/highway.
(not to be confused with a backup which is, for example, saving a second copy of a file as a backup)
boil down to: if a situation or problem boils down to something, that is the main reason for it
This all boils down to one thing - the client's expectations which need to be managed carefully.
bounce off: if light or sound bounces off a surface, it hits it and then moves away from it again to make a space bright. Literal:
You can always see the light bouncing off in the lounge.
If you have a moment I'd like to bounce some ideas off you.
blend in: to look or seem the same as the surroundings and not easily noticeable.
Without a steel edge around the garden bed, the planting between the pavers will really blend in with the rest of the garden beds.
break down: to separate something into smaller parts
Can you break down the design into the three different stages?
bring something up: to talk about something or raise an issue.
I need to bring up something important.
brush up on: improve one's existing knowledge or skill in a particular area.
By thinking through your responses beforehand and brushing up on your English, the meeting with your client can be less stressful.
call for: to make something necessary
The situation calls for a lot of attention to detail.
check out: look at or take notice of someone or something.
I'm checking out Robin Boyd's Wall Street House.
clear up something: to remove doubts, confusion or wrong ideas.
Before we finish this meeting, I want to clear up any confusion you might have.
E.g. The architects decided to close off the property behind a large impenetrable brick wall.
come up with: produce something such as ideas or a design concept
Today we'd like to present the ideas we came up with.
cut in: interrupt someone while they are speaking (one meaning)
Sorry, can I just cut in here to say that the architect is coming on Tuesday next week so we'll be able to discuss in more detail then?
E.g. The road cuts off access to the park from the northern boundary.
E.g. Sorry to cut you off but I have something to say here.
draw up: prepare a plan, agreement, or another document in detail.
Before we start, we need to draw up a rough schedule of our next few meetings with the client.
draw on / draw upon: make use of a skill or expertise or be inspired by something
We need to draw on the expertise of the engineer
figure out: to understand or to solve something.
I've been trying to figure out how to use Vectorworks for the last week.
fill (someone) in: inform someone more fully of a matter.
"I'm going to fill you in on a few things I've been working on recently."
E.g. Why Don't Architects Just Make Buildings fit in?
follow up: to stay in contact with someone to get something done or achieved.
I just wanted to follow up to see where you're at with those plans?
Where you're at - A question to ask someone how far along they are with finishing something.
Can you send a follow-up email after our discussion today?
follow through: 1. the action of completing something 2. to complete a plan to do something.
This pattern with the windows follows through to the next room.
I'm going to follow through with the promise I made to myself to start something new this year.
get across: to communicate an idea successfully, to make someone able to understand something.
Do you understand what I'm trying to get across?
get around to: to do something after you have intended to do it for some time.
A: Did you happen to get around to calling that supplier we talked about?
B: I didn't get around to it, but I'll do it first thing on the 4th of January.
first thing: early in the morning; before anything else.
get away with: to do something successfully even though it may not be the best choice or way.
I think we could get away with just gluing the wood together, rather than nailing it in place
get down to something: to start to direct your efforts towards doing something with more focus.
We need to get down to business on this project or we'll never get our proposal submitted on time.
get into: to start discussing something.
I'd like to get into why we have made these decisions.
get something across: