observation deck/area/point

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Hello!

Have a look at St. Isaac's in St.Petersburg: http://www.google.ru/imglanding?q=И...0Q9QEwAQ&start=0#tbnid=k37O5X0im7m6AM&start=4

Do you see a semicircular passage near the top of the cupola at an altitude of nearly 80 metres? I am sorry, I did not manage to find a bigger picture on the Internet, but I presume this one will also be suitable for my question and for you understanding it. This passage is intended for viewing the city and there is a very long and steep staircase inside the cathedral which leads almost to the top of it. When the weather is fine it is quite possible to notice many people there if you are at the distance. My question is whether or not we can call this area "observation deck"? I found this expression in the dictionary, but I have some doubts about the word "deck" used here. Also I have found other possibilities: "observation area" and "observation point".

Please tell me which ones do you like best and which ones can still be used to describe that area?

Thanks!
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think I'd call this an observation gallery, Dmitry. Any of your other terms would work, but they're not as descriptive. Of the three on your list, I like "deck" best.
     
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    I think I'd call this an observation gallery, Dmitry. Any of your other terms would work, but they're not as precise. Of the three on your list, I like "deck" best.
    Thanks, Owlman! Just in case I have provided another link so as to allow you and other members to see this area better than in the previous picture. It is difficult, if possible at all, to find the image of the gallery only because it has the form of a circle and it cannot be photographed from above because the cupola will prevent us from seeing it. This gallery is at the bottom of the central gilded cupola and you can make a loop around the cupola and see all the directions. I am not going to argue, of course, since my purpose is to learn and have the suggested ideas corroborated, but I am more used to calling a long straight room "gallery" no matter if it inside or outside. We often use the phrase "picture gallery" when there is some room for paintings hanging on the walls to the left and to the right so that walking along this gallery you see all of them. No doubt I am ready to accept the fact that a gallery can be a curved construction, a round one, in particular.

    Best
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I do think you want something relating to the structure, not simply "area," which could be anything.

    I don't much care for "deck" here; it just doesn't seem right for this building.

    Owlman's "gallery" sounds nice, but a gallery properly is roofed, and this area isn't.

    How about observation balcony or observation promenade?

    Personally, I like the latter.
     
    I do think you want something relating to the structure, not simply "area," which could be anything.

    I don't much care for "deck" here; it just doesn't seem right for this building.

    Owlman's "gallery" sounds nice, but a gallery properly is roofed, and this area isn't.

    How about observation balcony or observation promenade?

    Personally, I like the latter.
    Hello Paria and thanks for your participation in our discussion. I would vote for "balcony" because this word is more lucid and like ordinary balconies in Russia that construction has a rail and room for standing and leaning against the rail. You are also right that galleries are usually roofed premises whereas this one is not and will never be so. I cannot express my opinion of "promenade" because I have never heard this word before. Probably it will work here as well.

    Best
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I thought the dome above the walkway qualified as a "roof". "Balcony" sounds pretty good; however, I generally think of balconies as being structures that extend out beyond the walls of a structure. M-W supports that view: bal·co·ny 1 a : a usually unroofed platform projecting from the wall of a building, enclosed by a parapet or railing, and usually resting on brackets or consoles

    I also considered "promenade", but decided on "gallery" instead.
     
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    I thought the dome above the walkway qualified as a "roof". "Balcony" sounds good too.
    Thanks! As far as understand, the dome is not right above the walkway. It is a bit aside, but of course taller. So the walkway is not enclosed; it is located outside in the open air and under the open sky like balconies. Frankly speaking, balconies are sometimes covered in Russia but not always.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    As long as it's under open air, then I guess "balcony" will work. I'd be more comfortable with the term if I could clearly see that our "balcony" was a ring encircling the building that was supported by brackets underneath. However, I'm certainly no specialist in architectural terms. :)
     
    As long as it's under open air, then I guess "balcony" will work. I'd be more comfortable with the term if I could clearly see that our "balcony" was a ring encircling the building that was supported by brackets underneath. However, I'm certainly no specialist in architectural terms. :)
    Your description is absolutely correct. You have figured it out and that is your success. It is my fault that I did not circle it on the picture, but I have already explained the reason why I cannot do so. Probably "balcony" is best. I must repeat again that "promenade" is a new word for me and I can only remember it.

    Thanks!
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Your description is absolutely correct. You have figured it out and that is your success. It is my fault that I did not circle it on the picture, but I have already explained the reason why I cannot do so. Probably "balcony" is best. I must repeat again that "promenade" is a new word for me and I can only remember it.

    Thanks!
    Dmitry, the reason I like promenade better than balcony (although I suggested them both) is that to me, it's a more elegant word, and the cathedral is an elegant, impressive building. (Any little old house can have a balcony.)

    A promenade at ground level is a walkway, often along a river or other scenic area, intended for leisurely strolling. The word has a rather old-fashioned, formal "air." I just think that observation promenade "fits" the structure I saw in the picture.

    But of course plain walkway is accurate and will also do.:)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wish to be clear what we are describing. I'm assuming it's the circular space running round the building just below the lantern, rather than the similar area just above the cornice which surmounts the order immediately below the dome.

    I've not seen a word suggested which hints at the vertiginous nature of the point of observation. Balcony and promenade suggest easy bourgeois living rather than breathtaking views; walkway suggests that you've gone up there to get from one place to another, rather than to look at the city.

    I'd much prefer the word which we often use in BE for such points of observation in high buildings, platform. You can call it an observation platform if you wish, but that, to my ear makes it sound mildly industrial, as though people go up there to see if the building is crumbling.
     
    I wish to be clear what we are describing. I'm assuming it's the circular space running round the building just below the lantern, rather than the similar area just above the cornice which surmounts the order immediately below the dome.

    I've not seen a word suggested which hints at the vertiginous nature of the point of observation. Balcony and promenade suggest easy bourgeois living rather than breathtaking views; walkway suggests that you've gone up there to get from one place to another, rather than to look at the city.

    I'd much prefer the word which we often use in BE for such points of observation in high buildings, platform. You can call it an observation platform if you wish, but that, to my ear makes it sound mildly industrial, as though people go up there to see if the building is crumbling.
    First of all, in order to make it clearer what exactly we are describing I downloaded a picture of St.Isaac's from the Internet, circled the area I was talking about and then uploaded the picture again via th Wordreference. Though it might be difficult to notice the black circle on the picture, I hope you will manage to do this: http://forum.wordreference.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=7395&stc=1&d=1286109641

    Probably the previous link confused everyone because when I posted it first it led to another picture which has already changed. The area in question has nothing to do with lanterns, which are usually much lower and closer to the ground. It is located below the big gilded cupola right at the bottom of it.

    Best
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm afraid your link doesn't work, as far as I can see, Dmitry.

    We mustn't be at cross purposes. When you say that lanterns are usually much lower and closer to the ground, you suggest you are unfamiliar with the architectural usage of lantern to describe the small upright cylindrical structure which often surmounts a dome. Many subsequent domes, including the dome of St Isaac's, have been modelled on Michelangelo's dome of St Peter's, which is topped by just such a lantern. Another example is the Dome of the Capitol in Washington DC, where the lantern itself is topped by a statue of Freedom. You will have noticed that above this last photo the caption reads Capitol dome lantern Washington.jpg. I'm not making it up.
     
    I'm afraid your link doesn't work, as far as I can see, Dmitry.
    Strange. I clicked on it several times and it opened so I do not know what it does not work on your computer. Do you see the inscription on the screen that "the link cannot be opened" or something like this? I uploaded it via the Wordreference so it is not a Russian server that can really work only in my country. I do not know what I can do. Let us wait and see what other members say after trying it.

    We mustn't be at cross purposes. When you say that lanterns are usually much lower and closer to the ground, you suggest you are unfamiliar with the architectural usage of lantern to describe the small upright cylindrical structure which often surmounts a dome. Many subsequent domes, including the dome of St Isaac's, have been modelled on Michelangelo's dome of St Peter's, which is topped by just such a lantern. Another example is the Dome of the Capitol in Washington DC, where the lantern itself is topped by a statue of Freedom. You will have noticed that above this last photo the caption reads Capitol dome lantern Washington.jpg. I'm not making it up.
    Sorry, I did not know about this meaning of lantern. I thought you were speaking about a light used to illuminate the building at night. Anyway the area I meant is not that high. It is at the bottom of the big dome.

    Best
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]Sorry, I did not know about this meaning of lantern. I thought you were speaking about a light used to illuminate the building at night. Anyway the area I meant is not that high. It is at the bottom of the big dome.

    Best
    Many thanks. Above the entablature, then, and with statues going round it? As it is much less high than the place I thought you meant, and more suitable for leisurely observation, and also more easily accessible (fewer stairs), I think I'd call it a gallery.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Dmitry, this new link doesn't work for me, either. I have no idea why.

    Anyway, I had no trouble identifying the area in question from the picture of the cathedral to which your initial link led--the area circling the dome, bordered by a balustrade, with statues at intervals.

    I'll stay with observation X, my choices for X being promenade, walkway, or balcony, in that order. The last is probably the most correct technically, but the others sound better to me.

    Oh--one other thought: Since it circles the structure, one could refer to it as the "observation ring."
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Dmitry,

    If I were you I'd look at some websites describing great ecclesiastical buildings and see what words are used while checking that the writer has a modicum of education, and is a native speaker of English.

    Here is a site describing St Paul's Cathedral, which has several structural features similar to those you are seeking to describe. You will see how they are in fact described:

    St. Paul's Cathedral, being itself one of the most famous London attractions, also offers spectacular 360-degree view of London. From the main floor you can go 99 feet up to the Whispering Gallery (named after its extraordinary acoustic), then climb another 74 feet to the Stone Gallery where you can enjoy a great panoramic view of London. If you want even more spectacular and more panoramic view, then another 153 steps (107 feet) take you to the Inner Golden Gallery.

    Notice that the word gallery is used for observation areas both within and outside the building.

    I wouldn't expect a serious description of our architectural feature of a Cathedral in BE to describe these features in any of the following ways, for the reasons I shall give:

    Deck - suitable to a ship, or an industrial site.
    Area - too bland, too modernese.
    Point - OK for a point, but we aren't describing a point.
    Promenade - we aren't up there to stroll about.
    Walkway - suggests that this is a route for people to move on foot from one place to another.
    Balcony - OK for an elevated point of observation on a secular building, like a palace or the Kremlin, but unsuitable for an ecclesiastical edifice; it also has dangerous overtones of a middle-class way of life.

    People don't go up there to walk about, but to look at things, and a place where we look at things is called a gallery, the word suggested by Owlman early in the thread. His was an AE view; mine is a BE one.
     
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