Grand Doubletree east atrium up

The Grand Doubletree hotel/condo in Downtown Miami 42 story atrium

In modern architecture, an atrium (plural atria) is a large open space, often several stories high and having a glazed roof and/or large windows, often situated within an office building and usually located immediately beyond the main entrance doors. Atria are popular with companies because they give their buildings "a feeling of space and light", but have been criticised by fire inspectors as they could allow fire to spread to a building's upper stories more quickly.


The Latin word atrium referred to the open central court, from which the enclosed rooms led off, in the type of large ancient Roman house known as a domus.

The impluvium was the shallow pool sunken into the floor to catch the rainwater. Some surviving examples are beautifully decorated. The opening in the ceiling above the pool called for some means of support for the roof. And it is here where one differentiates between five different styles of atrium.

As the centrepiece of the house the atrium was the most lavishly furnished room. Also, it contained the little chapel to the ancestral spirits (lararium), the household safe (arca) and sometimes a bust of the master of the house.

The term was also used for a variety of spaces in public and religious buildings, mostly forms of arcaded courtyards, larger versions of the domestic spaces. Byzantine churches were often entered through such a space (as are many mosques, though the term is not usually used for Islamic architecture.

Tallest atriumEdit

As of 2007, Dubai's Burj Al Arab, has the tallest atrium. The Burj Al Arab was built to impress and to iconize the urban development in the city of Dubai.

Largest atriumEdit

The Luxor Hotel, in Las Vegas, Nevada, has the largest atrium in the world at 29 million cubic feet (820,000 m³).

Glazed atrium Edit

The 19th century brought the industrial revolution with great advances in iron and glass manufacturing techniques. Courtyards could then have horizontal glazing overhead, eliminating some of the weather elements from the space and giving birth to the modern atrium.

One of the main public spaces at Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia is called The Atrium and is a street-like space, 5-stories high with glazed walls and roof. The structure and glazing pattern follow the system of fractals used to arrange the panels on the rest of the facades at Federation Square.

19th century atria Edit

Examples of modern-day atriaEdit

See alsoEdit


  • Roth, Leland M (1993). Understanding Architecture: Its Elements History and Meaning. Oxford, UK: Westview Press. ISBN 0-06-430158-3.  pp. 520
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