A pilaster is a slightly-projecting flattened column built into or applied to the face of a wall. In discussing Leon Battista Alberti's use of pilasters, which Alberti reintroduced into wall-architecture, Rudolf Wittkower wrote, "The pilaster is the logical transformation of the column for the decoration of a wall. It may be defined as a flattened column which has lost its three-dimensional and tactile value." [Wittkower, "Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism" (1962) 1965:36.]

A pilaster appears with a capital [A useful phrase to identify a section of pilaster without a capital, with only its fluting to identify its relation to a column, is "pilaster strip".] and entablature, also in "low-relief" or flattened against the wall.

The pilaster is an in classical architecture used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function. In contrast, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above. [Mark Jarzombek, “Pilaster Play” "Thresholds" 28 Concerto Barocco, Essays dedicated to Henry Millon (Winter 2005), 34-41.]

Pilasters often appear on the sides of a door frame or window opening on the facade of a building, and are sometimes paired with columns or pillars set directly in front of them at some distance away from the wall, which support a roof structure above, such as a portico. These vertical elements can also be used to support a recessed archivolt around a doorway. The pilaster can be replaced by ornamental brackets supporting the entablature or a balcony over a doorway.

As with a column, a pilaster can have a plain or fluted surface to its flattened rectangular profile (cross section) and can be represented in the mode of any of the classical orders. In the giant order pilasters appear as two-storeys tall, linking floors in a single unit.

The fashion of using this element from Ancient Greek and Roman architecture was adopted in the Italian Renaissance and later Greek Revival architecture.

ee also

* Archivolt
* Buttress
* Post and lintel
* Engaged column
* Classical architecture
* List of classical architecture termsA pilaster in civil engineering is a vertical rectangular member that is structurally a pier, and architecturally a column. Pilasters are used to decrease the slenderness ratio for the height of masonry walls - L/R<120.


*Lewis, Philippa and Gillian Darley, "Dictionary of Ornament" (1986) NY: Pantheon


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  • Pilaster — am County Courthouse in Springfield, Ohio (USA) Ein Pilaster (von lateinisch pila ‚Pfeiler‘ ) ist ein Formelement der Architektur. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pilaster — (franz. pilastre, span. pilastra), Wandpfeiler von mehr oder minder schlankem Verhältnis, die mit einer Wand verbunden sind und aus ihr mehr oder weniger hervortreten. Ist ihr Vorsprung ihrer Breite etwa gleich, so nennt man sie Anten. Sie dienen …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Pilaster — Pilaster, ein aus der Wandfläche vortretender rechtwinkliger Wandpfeiler (vgl. a. Ante, Bd. 1, S. 233). Pilaster haben in der Regel nur eine dekorative und keine struktive Aufgabe, dienen namentlich zur Gliederung der Wandfläche und erhalten in… …   Lexikon der gesamten Technik

  • Pilaster — Pi*las ter, n. [F. pilastre, It. pilastro, LL. pilastrum, fr. L. pila a pillar. See {Pillar}.] (Arch.) An upright architectural member right angled in plan, constructionally a pier (See {Pier}, 1 (b) ), but architecturally corresponding to a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pilaster — (Wandpfeiler), nach den Verhältnissen der Säulen sich richtende viereckige Pfeiler, welche mit einer Wand verbunden sind u. aus dieser mehr od. weniger herausstehen. Treten sie so weit hervor, als ihre Breite beträgt, so heißen sie Anten (s.d.).… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Piláster — (frz.), s. Pfeiler …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Pilaster — Pilaster, ein Pfeiler, der nach Art der Säulen verziert, meist viereckig ist und selten freisteht …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Pilaster — Pilaster, Pfeiler, welche aus einer Wand heraustreten und nach den Verhältnissen des Gebäudes die Verzierungen einer Säulenordnung haben …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Pilaster — Pilaster,der:⇨Pfeiler(1) …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

  • pilaster — (n.) a square column, 1570s, from M.Fr. pilastre (1540s), from It. pilastro, from M.L. pilastrum (mid 14c.), from pila, buttress, pile (from L. pila, see PILLAR (Cf. pillar)) + L. aster, suffix expressing incomplete resemblance …   Etymology dictionary

  • pilaster — *pillar, column …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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