spireless, adj.
/spuyeur/, n., v., spired, spiring.
1. a tall, acutely pointed pyramidal roof or rooflike construction upon a tower, roof, etc.
2. a similar construction forming the upper part of a steeple. See illus. under steeple.
3. a tapering, pointed part of something; a tall, sharp-pointed summit, peak, or the like: the distant spires of the mountains.
4. the highest point or summit of something: the spire of a hill; the spire of one's profession.
5. a sprout or shoot of a plant, as an acrospire of grain or a blade or spear of grass.
6. to shoot or rise into spirelike form; rise or extend to a height in the manner of a spire.
[bef. 1000; ME; OE spir spike, blade; c. MD spier, MLG spir shoot, sprout, sprig, ON spira stalk]
spireless, adj.
/spuyeur/, n.
1. a coil or spiral.
2. one of the series of convolutions of a coil or spiral.
3. Zool. the upper, convoluted part of a spiral shell, above the aperture.
[1565-75; < L spira < Gk speîra; see SPIRAL]

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Steeply pointed termination to a tower or roof.

In Gothic architecture, the spire is a spectacular visual culmination of the building as well as a symbol of heavenly aspiration. The church spire originated in the 12th century as a simple, four-sided pyramidal roof capping a tower. Methods used to integrate an octagonal spire with a square tower below include broaches (sloping triangular sections of masonry added to the bottom of the four spire faces not coinciding with the tower sides), gabled dormers added to spire faces, and steep pinnacles (vertical ornaments of pyramidal or conical shape) added to tower corners. During the Decorated period (14th century) in England, a slender needle spire set in from the edge of the tower was popular; corner pinnacles and a low parapet around the tower's edge became customary. In the 20th century, architects tended to limit spires to rather elementary geometric shapes.

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 in architecture, steeply pointed pyramidal or conical termination to a tower. In its mature Gothic development, the spire was an elongated, slender form that was a spectacular visual culmination of the building as well as a symbol of the heavenly aspirations of pious medieval men.

      The spire originated in the 12th century as a simple, four-sided pyramidal roof, generally abrupt and stunted, capping a church tower. Its history is a development toward slimmer, higher forms and a more organic relationship with the tower below. In the attempt to coordinate harmoniously an octagonal spire with a square base, the broach spire was developed: sloping, triangular sections of masonry, or broaches, were added to the bottom of the four spire faces that did not coincide with the tower sides, as in the 12th-century Church of St. Columba at Cologne. In the later 12th and 13th centuries, spires were also integrated with their towers by adding high, gabled dormers (q.v.) to the faces of the spire, over the centres of the tower faces—a scheme that can be seen on the southwest tower of Chartres cathedral. On many French cathedrals, steep pinnacles (q.v.; vertical ornaments of pyramidal or conical shape) were added to the four corners of the tower to effect the transition between quadrilateral base and octagonal spire. A fine example is a group of spires at Coutances cathedral (13th century), in which the rich treatment of the spire dormers and corner pinnacles emphasizes the sense of height and slimness in every possible way.

      In Germany the timber spires of the Romanesque era evolved into Gothic stone spires of great refinement. At Fribourg (Switz.) cathedral (spire, 1270–88), a low, square tower with corner pinnacles carries a gabled, octagonal lantern that supports the spire of 385 feet (117 metres), a mere skeleton of openwork tracery with ornamented edges giving an amazingly light and delicate effect. This type of openwork spire became the model for later churches in Germany.

      In the 14th century, during the Decorated period in England, a slender, needle spire was set in from the edge of the tower, broaches disappeared, corner pinnacles became customary, and a low parapet was added around the tower's edge, as seen in the two western spires of Lichfield cathedral.

      The spire was never thoroughly accepted by the Renaissance, and it failed to become a native form in Spain or Italy. In England, France, and Germany, however, its development continued, influenced to some degree by Italian Baroque forms. During the 17th century in Germany, fantastic, spirelike forms were designed with profiles of broken concave and convex lines, crowned at the top with a sort of onionlike dome; they rose to a considerable height and, in imaginative quality, far surpassed any of the Italian examples. At the same time in England, the spire received a simpler, more straightforward treatment in the designs of Sir Christopher Wren (Wren, Sir Christopher), particularly in churches built after the Great Fire in London (1666), such as St. Martin, Ludgate, and St. Bride's on Fleet Street (only spire and steeple [1701–03] remain).

      Noteworthy also are many simplified colonial American spires that were originally based upon the work of Wren and his followers. Characteristic is the type in which a small, octagonal, arcaded lantern crowns a square tower and carries, usually above an attic, a simple, slim, white spire, as in the Old South Meeting House, Boston (1729). This trend toward slender and attenuated proportions reached its climax in the exquisitely light spire of Park Street Church, Boston (1819), by Peter Banner.

      Nineteenth-century architects made extravagant use of spires, particularly during the Gothic Revival period of the 1840s, '50s, and '60s. Perhaps because spires were so closely associated with picturesque eclecticism, 20th-century architects have tended to limit them to rather elementary geometric shapes, such as the truncated, octagonal spire of St. Mary's Cathedral (c. 1970) in San Francisco.

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Universalium. 2010.

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