architecture baby namesArchitecture baby names borrow from building and design terms that might wear well as a given name. But they can also by inspired by famous first names, surnames, or even nicknames of leading architects and designers.

If you’re a fan of all things architecture, from ancient history to the present day, the perfect inspiration for your child’s name might be on this list.



As a first name, Arch is probably short for Archer or Archibald. Except it’s also a vertical, curved structure that can support weight above it – think of a bridge or even a doorway. The earliest arches date back thousands of years BC. The famous Manning football family includes a son called Arch, short for Archibald.


It sounds like Harris, hold the H. Or maybe Ares, the Greek god of war. (Better known as Mars in Roman mythology.) But Arris has potential. It refers to the sharp edge where two surfaces meet in construction.


Bay reads like a nature name, borrowed from famous bodies of water from the Chesapeake to San Francisco and all over the world, too. But in building, it refers to a recess – think bay window. While many of these terms might appear on a blueprint, Bay most certainly will.


A Latin term meaning small chamber, cella refers to the inner chamber in an ancient Greek or Roman temple. Today, though, Cella looks enough like Ella, Stella, and Bella to belong on this list of names inspired by architecture.


We tend to think of a dormer as a type of window, projecting from a sloping roof. Or it can refer to the roof itself. It comes from the French dormir – to sleep – which tracks, since the windows were typically in bedrooms on a house’s upper floors. Today Dormer sounds a lot like Top 100 favorites Cooper or Parker.


Yves is a classic French name, ultimately related to the yew tree. (Think legendary French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.) Eaves is borrowed from architecture, referring to the lower part of a roof. It comes from an Old English word meaning edge, and these edges normally overhang the wall. Fun fact: to eavesdrop comes from this term, since it referred to someone lurking just outside a building to hear what’s happening inside. Sound-wise, Eaves is close to popular name Everett, as well as girls’ favorites like Eva and Everly.


Hollywood’s leading man Clark Gable comes to mind. So does Anne of Green Gables. But a gable is a type of roof, or more technically, the triangular wall formed by a sloping roof. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables makes it literary.


Every door needs a key, but there are also keystones. In architecture, it’s the stone at the top of the arch. It locks the entire structure into place. They’re often decorative, too. And the term can be used figuratively, meaning essential. For a brief word, Key is rich with meaning and possibility.


This word was whispered down the alley, from Arabic to Turkish to French. It refers to the turret of a mosque. Ultimately, it comes from a word meaning candlestick. The connection to a specific faith tradition might make Minaret problematic for many families; though similar names like Minette and Minuet have enough potential to suggest that Minaret might work for some.


An oriole is a bird, named for its golden color. (It comes from the Latin word for gold.) But an oriel is a bay window or other projection that forms a small room. They’re first recorded during the Middle Ages, in both Europe and the Middle East.


Pilar means pillar in Spanish. While pillars are undeniably an architectural feature, if you meet a little girl called Pilar, odds are she’s named for a religious title. Legend tells that Mary appeared to the apostle James. She was seated on a pillar, earning the title María del Pilar.


It’s pronounced just like coin, but quoin refers to a cornerstone.


A rosette means little rose. It can refer to anything with the right shape – a decorative knot of ribbons, a type of stitch, multiple phenomena in the natural world, and the shape of a window. Sometimes called rose windows, rosette refers to one type of design, found in early architecture in both the Middle East and Europe.


As in the tiles of a slate roof. Slate has potential in the same broad category as Steel and Stone, suggesting strength.



Celebrated Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto designed buildings all over the world from the 1920s into the 1980s. The Aalto Theater in Essen, Germany bears his name. While Aalto sounds like the Italian musical term “alto,” it means wave.


Husband and wife design team Charles and Ray Eames left their mark on midcentury architecture, but especially furniture. The Eames chair was introduced in 1956. It’s still sold today, through Herman Miller.


It looks a little like Gary, but Gehry has a whole different vibe. Among many famous buildings, he designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. His architecture firm has helped pioneer new technologies, while Gehry himself has designed everything from a cognac bottle to ice hockey trophies and a yacht.


French architect Jean Nouvel is celebrated for his design work. But he’s well known in naming circles thanks to Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. The former A-list couple chose their daughter’s middle name in homage to the architect. It’s said that dad Brad is a fan. The name means new in French, though it would be spelled nouvelle or nouveau. 


As in Sir Christopher Wren, the famous English baroque architect who helped rebuild London following the Great Fire of 1666. Saint Paul’s Cathedral is generally considered his masterwork. It’s worth noting that Wren is reaching peak popularity as a girl’s name in recent years, but that’s thanks to our love of nature names, rather than the architect’s legacy. Still, if you’re a design maven, Wren could be a fits in/stands out kind of choice.



Even if you’ve never heard of Cass Gilbert, you’ve probably seen his work. Known for the Beaux Arts style, as well as early skyscrapers, Gilbert designed the US Supreme Court building, several state capitals, and the Woolworth Building in New York City – for a time, the world’s tallest building.


As in Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, known for designing St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, Dulles International Airport outside of Washington DC, as well as dozens of others buildings, many on college campuses. Saarinen also created the Tulip chair. One fun fact: he worked closely with Charles and Ray Eames, and later named his son Eames.


It’s not exactly architecture, but Elsie de Wolfe, is often credited as the first professional interior designer. She helped usher out the Victorian era, lightening and brightening interiors in fashionable homes and gathering spots. An international celebrity in the 1920s and 30s, regularly on best dressed lists, de Wolfe shaped the world as we know it.


Danish architect Finn Juhl is better known for furniture design, particularly for bringing Danish modern to America in the 1940s.


Born in London in 1573, Inigo Jones was named for his father, who may have been named after Saint Ignatius. Jones got his start designing theater sets and costumes. Eventually, he segued into architecture, designing many royal buildings, as well as Covent Garden’s central square.


Another Danish-American designer who helped bring Danish modern to the US and define midcentury modern style, Jens Risom even designed a chair for US President Lyndon B. Johnson. Jens is a Danish form of John, one that feels fresh and interesting today.


Marcel Lajos Breuer was a German-Hungarian architect and furniture designer who fled Europe during World War II. He was known by nickname Lajko to his friends. Known for Brutalist architecture, his buildings include the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, as well as IBM’s Research and Development facility, birthplace of the personal computer. Pronounced LY-koh, it’s not too far from names like Kylo and Lyla.


This started out as a surname, but became famous thanks to German-American architect Mies van der Rohe. (His first name was Ludwig.) It’s worth noting that, in the Netherlands, Mies is traditionally feminine. van der Rohe is known for New York’s Seagram Building and Berlin’s New National Gallery. But we might remember him most for his enduring quotes, like “God is in the details” and “Less is more.”


Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is best known in the US for Seattle Central Library, but his designs can be found all over the world. In Koolhaas’ case, Rem is short for Remment. But it’s the three-letter name that feels distinctively Dutch – a brief, energetic name that travels the world with ease.


We think of Enzo as short for Lorenzo, but Renzo works, too. Though celebrated architect Renzo Piano was born in Italy as just Renzo. His most famous work might be the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, but he’s known for all sorts of projects. There’s Sydney’s Aurora Place; Bern, Switzerland’s Paul Klee Museum; a wing of the Art Institute of Chicago; and London skyscraper The Shard.


Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid designed the Guangzhou Opera House and the London Aquatics Center, buildings known for dramatic curves – Hadid’s signature. In 2004, she became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Her name means bright or shining, which seems fitting.

This list barely scratches the surface of possible architecture baby names. What would you add?

First published on March 3, 2008, this post was revised and re-published on September 12, 2023.

architecture baby names

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. I went to school with a guy called Gabe. Everyone thought Gabe was short for Gabriel, but it wasn’t until he started dating a girl in my grade that we found out his name was really Gable. His mom was a fan of Clark.

  2. It’s a nice point, S., especially with Miss Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt out there. Aldo makes me think of shoes, and I prefer Ignatius to the (related) Inigo, but these are all valid alternatives – especially in the middle spot, a great place for a hero name!

  3. This post is really old but…

    Why not names of architects instead of objects? Some interesting ones:



    I also “Rennie” like Charles Rennie MacKintosh….

    You could go crazy with surnames too if you wanted.

  4. I’ve thought before that Rafter sounds like it could be a boys’ name. I don’t think it works as well as Archer and Gable, but it would work better than Dormer. I think Raf could be quite an appealing nickname.

  5. You know, I’ve always like Archer better than Archibald. It feels both modern and traditional, somehow. Gable is so cute! I like it a lot, actually. It’s a much cooler sounding name to me than Clark.