Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
Coffer: a decorative sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle or octagon in a ceiling, dome, soffit or vault
Caisson: an alternative name for a coffer.
Lacuna: alternative name for coffered ceilings.
The stone and wooden coffers of the Romans are the earliest surviving examples. Coffered ceilings were originally created to reduce the weight of stone ceilings, e.g., in the Roman Pantheon. The coffering technique was also used in Ancient Greece.
Coffers were most likely first formed out of wooden beams crossing one another in a grid pattern. The technique was brought back during the Renaissance and is commonly seen in Baroque and Neoclassical art and architecture.
The strength of the structure is in the framework of the coffers.
Found in Classical Greek and Roman architecture and derivatives, including Beaux Arts Classicism, Classical Revival, Federal, Georgian Revival, Neoclassicism, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire
Examples from Buffalo architecture
- Illustration above: Blessed Trinity RC Church
- Shea's Buffalo
- Williams-Butler House
- Stephen M. Clement House/Red Cross Building
- Market Arcade Building
- Robert B. Adam House
- City Hall
- Forman-Cabana House
- St. Gerard's RC Church
- St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church/St. Luke's Mission of Mercy