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Mansard Roof

Picture Dictionary of Roof Styles: Mansard or French Style Roof

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The Second Empire style Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington DC has a high mansard roof.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington DC

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington DC has a high mansard roof.

Photo © Tom Brakefield / Getty Images
A mansard roof has two slopes on each of the four sides. The lower slope is is so steep that it can look like a vertical wall with dormers. The upper slope has a low pitch and is not easily seen from the ground. A mansard roof has no gables.

The term "mansard" comes from the French architect François Mansart (1598-1666) of the Beaux Arts School of Architecture in Paris, France. Mansart revived interest in this roofing style, which had been characteristic of French Renaissance architecture, and was used for portions of the Louvre.

Another revival of the mansard roof occurred in the 1850s, when Paris was rebuilt by Napoleon III. The style became associated with this era, and the term Second Empire is often used to describe any building with a mansard roof.

Mansard roofs were considered especially practical because they allowed usable living quarters to be placed in the attic. For this reason, older buildings were often remodeled with mansard roofs. In the United States, Second Empire - or Mansard - was a Victorian style, popular from the 1860s through the 1880s.

Today, mansard style roofs are occasionally used one- and two-story apartment buildings, restaurants, and Neo-eclectic houses.

Mansard roofs are associated with these styles:

Similar Roof Styles:
  • Hip, or Hipped

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