The Best Architecture Baby Names: Decimus, Inigo and Quincy

By Linda Rosenkrantz

It’s not unusual to find interesting and creative names among the leading figures in all spheres of the arts, but there’s a really stellar group to be found among notable architects.  International in scope, and looked at across time, here are some of the most intriguing first and last name examples–any of which you might want to consider if you’re an architecture aficionado—or if there’s an architect in your family.

Addison Mizner was one of the key developers of Florida resort architecture, Spanish Revival style.  Mizner was born in 1872, when Addison was strictly a boys’ name—it didn’t begin to take off for girls until 1994, but still can make a valid patronymic choice for a boy.

Cass Gilbert was an early proponent of the Beaux Arts style skyscraper, designing, among others, the Woolworth Building in New York—the world’s tallest building at the time.   He was named for a statesman-relative called Lewis Cass, but the name stands well on its own as a first.  Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel about a judge called Cass Timberlane.

Decimus Burton was a prolific nineteenth century English architect and garden designer whose works included buildings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens and the London Zoo. Decimus is one of the old Latin numeral names that adventurous babynamers are beginning to consider.

Eero Saarinen—This important Finnish-American architect was known for his graceful, organic forms and sweeping curves, as seen in the St. Louis Gateway Arch and the TWA building at JFK.  We love the double vowels in many Scandinavian names, and this one has an interesting aerospace feel.  Saarinen named his son Eames after his fellow designer, Charles Eames.

Inigo Jones—Living from 1573 to 1652, Inigo Jones is considered the first significant modern British architect, designing such spaces as Covent Garden Square, as well as being an influential theatrical designer.  He shared his first name with his father—and it would be a stunning first or middle choice for an architecture-minded family.

Mies van der Rohe– Born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies, but always known by his original surname (he later took on the van der Rohe), the German-American Mies defined a simple, modern, industrial aesthetic and is also known for his sayings, “Less is more” and “God is in the details.”  Mies (pronounced mees) could make an unusual middle for either gender–in the Netherlands it’s heard mostly on girls.  (Trivia note:  He named one of his daughters Waltraut).

Quincy Jones—No, not the musical ‘Q’ Jones—this is Southern California architect A. (for Archibald) Quincy Jones, an innovative modernist and pioneer of green design.  Quincy is one of the few usable Q names, now at Number 633, appreciated for its jazzy, quirky but not too quirky, image.

Rem Koolhaus, born Remment Lucas, is a Pritzker Prize-winning Dutch architect and theorist known for such buildings as the boldly designed Seattle Public Library.  Rem is a typical Dutch single-syllable nickname name; full-name Remment might be too reminiscent of ‘remnant.’ Another option is the Dutch Remco/Remko.

Renzo Piano—Chosen by Time magazine as the tenth most influential person in the arts in 2006, Italian architect Piano’s designs feature technological shapes and materials in buildings like the Centre Georges Pompidou in ParisRenzo is a highly appealing diminutive of Lorenzo; Piano would make an interesting middle, linking two art forms.

Thom Mayne is a prize-winning California-based contemporary artist often called a maverick for his fractured forms;  he seemed to have been born Thom and not ThomasThom makes a more substantial stand-alone name than the standard-issue Tom.

And then there are the surnames that might work as firsts:

Aalto, Alvar—another great Finnish double-vowel possibility

Ain, Gregory

Gehry, Frankthough might be misunderstood as Gary

Nash, JohnNash has been gaining attention over the last couple of decades—he’s now at Number 521

Nouvel, Jean—A surname that admirer Brad Pitt used as his daughter Shiloh’s middle

Neutra, Richard—pronounced NOY-tra

Pelli, Cesar

Sullivan, Louis—This jaunty Irish surname, used by Patrick Dempsey for one of his twins, jumped onto the boys’ list in 2002 and is now at Number 490.

Webb, Philip

Wren, Sir Christopher MichaelWren is a rapidly growing in popularity girls’ first and middle choice

Wright, Frank Lloyd

Any of these inspire you?


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16 Responses to “The Best Architecture Baby Names: Decimus, Inigo and Quincy”

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meaganeve Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Michelangelo isn’t making the cut these days? 😛

I love Cass, Nash, and Miles.

meaganeve Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Mies* not Miles

BasicSand Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I’d also add a few: Pei (I.M. Pei), Corbusier, and Gehry.

Kibby Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 12:39 am

Decimus has been on our list for awhile! I tease that we will use it for our tenth child!

tori101 Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 3:36 am

Ah interesting post!

maggiemary Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 5:11 am

I absolutely love Inigo and would still consider Addison (as a mn) for a boy.

ninkynonk Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 6:48 am

Inigo is one of my all-time favourite names, but every time I mention to people, they think of that movie quote from The Princess Bride;

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

It didn’t really bother me, but it seemed to be the first thing on anyone else’s mind when they heard the name and that bothered my husband.

So I have three sons, none of whom are named Inigo 🙁

Mischa Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 8:33 am

Ok, now I want to have a son and name him Inigo Decimus! 🙂

Anotherkate Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 8:52 am

I’ve toured this one historic plantation in SC several times and apparently misheard the guides all say Inigo Jones as “Indigo” Jones,… but i remember them saying the man was a freed slave who worked on the design of the plantation… Looking it up Inigo’s architecture books were used for this plantation, so I’m not sure which is right! It’d be a huge coincidence if Inigo Jones’s books were consulted by the freed black architect Indigo Jones!
For the whole reason of him being a freed slave architect designing a favorite historic plantation of mine, “Indigo” was on my long/middle name list. Not sure I like Inigo as much (also because of the princess bride reference!)…

skizzo Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 10:22 am

Wren is also used almost as much for boys, let’s put that out there.

Madelyn Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 10:32 am

What a timely post! Rem Koolhaas was just chosen to redesign the Miami Beach Convention Center.

This is a wonderful list. Addison, Cass, Eero, Rem, and Wright are my favorites.

roseymaam Says:

July 18th, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Sullivan’s partner was Dankmar Adler. Dankmar is a little, erm, Dank. But Adler’s kind of nice.

spotlightstarlit Says:

July 19th, 2013 at 7:47 am

Eames is a long time favorite. Could I really use it, though, when everyone criticized those who use Allegra because of the cold medicine? I don’t want my child known as “the one she named after an arm chair,” even a very nice arm chair.

Freddy Says:

July 19th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Just like to mention that Mies is almost only used as a girls name in the Netherlands (granny name, from Maria).

Rem is a name not heard very often in the Netherlands, more used is Remco/Remko, apparently it relates to the old Germanic word for “council”.

My personal favoriet from the list above is Inigo. I think Eero is also very interesting.

zelba Says:

July 21st, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I know a Sinan, named after the Turkish architect Mimar Sinan.

linda Says:

July 22nd, 2013 at 12:45 am

@Freddy–Thanks for the info–I will add it in.

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