Coffered Ceiling, Main Entrance, First Floor, World War Memorial

Coffered Ceiling. A coffered ceiling is created with the placement of several individual coffers. A coffer is a square or octagonal, deep panel, recessed into a ceiling, dome, or vault.  A coffer is also known as a caisson or lacunar, both words historically associated as a deep recessed panel or cavity in a ceiling or dome. Coffering can imply the arrangement of several coffers, not just limited to a ceiling. Ancient Greek and Roman architecture used coffers, including the iconic Pantheon dome in Rome, Italy; while American architecture employs the feature throughout a variety of styles and uses.

The Indiana War Memorial, found downtown in the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District, includes breathtaking details on its interior. If you haven’t seen the interior of this monumental structure, I highly recommend taking a moment to step inside this local treasure. Fortunately, the interior of the Memorial includes two different, yet unique, coffered ceilings. The first coffered ceiling is found in the first interior room at the public entrance. This flat, coffered ceiling includes a diversity of ornament, including painted rosettes in each coffer. The ornament located on the bands separating each row of coffers is known as a fret.

Coffered Ceiling, Main Hallway, First Floor, World War Memorial

The second coffered ceiling is found in the first floor, main hallway that provides access to the auditorium and stairs to the Shrine Room. The coffering is placed on the vaulted (or slightly arched) hallway ceiling, supported on all four sides by elaborate columns. Painted ornament is included on each aspect of this coffered ceiling, expanding the level of detail of individual architectural features on the interior of the memorial. The bands on this coffered ceiling feature painted ribbons with floral leafs.

Add it to your vocabulary: how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?

After seeing drop ceilings in almost every office space, I was surprised to find the coffered ceiling was still retained in the building’s lobby.

2 responses to “Building Language: Coffered Ceiling”

  1. Donna Winsted says:

    I love the World War Memorial and have ever since the first time I saw it (1949). I did a photo-essay on it for a class at Herron Art School and it was a joy! By the way, did you know that the marble stairways leading up to the Shrine Room used to have beautiful chandeliers hanging above every landing? It was magical!!! When I saw the fluorescent lighting for the first time, I was totally disgusted!

  2. Anonymous says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *