Sometimes in movies I see an architectural feature of hotels or large houses that have a side motor entrance or drop-off for cars with a roof as shown below:

motor entrance

Is there an architectural term for this thing?

  • 1
    I'm thinking that there's another term for this, at least in the US. Something along the lines of "carriage portico". (I see that "carriage porch" is suggested by the Wikipedia article for porte-cochère, a word that is not commonly used in the US, outside of architect's offices.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 12, 2017 at 1:08
  • 4
    Architects may well have another term for it, but covered entrance works for most of us. Pull-though is another option.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jun 12, 2017 at 2:28
  • Making up terms, I might call it a "drop-off," since the point of it appears to be to drop off a passenger. If context were already established, I suspect most people could understand me, even though the term is definitely not common usage or instantly recognizable.
    – jpmc26
    Jun 12, 2017 at 22:30
  • Does this answer your question? What do you call those roofs you usually find at the entrance of buildings? Sep 15, 2020 at 16:16

4 Answers 4


There may be other names, the one I am familar with is Porte cochere

Definition of porte cochere Merriam-Webster

1 : a passageway through a building or screen wall designed to let vehicles pass from the street to an interior courtyard

2 : a roofed structure extending from the entrance of a building over an adjacent driveway and sheltering those getting in or out of vehicles

By way of further confirmation, here is the listing for the pictured property, Ivy Road House, Atlanta on the designer's website.

This distinctive painted brick Atlanta Residence was built to maximize its narrow lot by organizing the site with a circular drive that leads to a formal front entry and a porte-cochere that leads to a more informal side entrance.

  • 1
    I do see that now.. so sorry
    – Tom22
    Jun 12, 2017 at 6:39
  • At least two of the commenters at MW said they encountered this on architectural drawings, so plus one, even though I've never heard it either (nor had some of the people claiming to be valets).
    – Mazura
    Jun 12, 2017 at 23:11
  • 1
    Well, I guess if I had a house that looked like that, I would call it a porte cochere, too. :) Jun 13, 2017 at 17:50

Derived from the French porte-cochère mentioned in Spagirl's answer, I've mostly commonly heard this termed as the anglicized carport.

Carport is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

an open-sided automobile shelter by the side of a building

  • 12
    Yes, this term is very common in the US (+1). It's probably worth noting that a carport doesn't necessarily lead anywhere (like the garages shown in the OP's picture); it can be more of an open-air attached-garage, the main place where a car is parked, rather than a pass-through.
    – 1006a
    Jun 11, 2017 at 20:55
  • 7
    this is definitely not a carport. This is a covered driveway entrance. A carport is found on lower-end homes in place of a garage.
    – Jim
    Jun 11, 2017 at 21:52
  • 9
    This is not a carport. A carport is where you park the car.
    – Emma Dash
    Jun 11, 2017 at 21:55
  • 3
    @Emma Dash, many people park their cars on their driveways in front of the garage, including those with carports.
    – vpn
    Jun 11, 2017 at 22:00
  • 12
    For 60+ years that I know of a "carport" has been an open-sided shed attached to the side of the house or adjacent to it, and built over the driveway or over a slab that extends from the driveway. The purpose is to park the car, similar to a garage. The structure pictured above does vaguely resemble a carport, and many people, reaching for a word, might call it that, but the purpose of the above structure is as an entry portico, not for vehicle storage (at least not if the garages visible behind it are not already filled to bursting with tools and garden equipment).
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 12, 2017 at 0:59

side entrance

Whether or not the pictured structure is a carport or a garage, what it provides that's an important feature is a side entrance to the house. This enables groceries, laundry, and the like to be taken into the house from a side door rather than the main entrance to the house.

In a hotel it might be called a drop-off, which allows taxis and other vehicles to drive to a side door underneath a roof and off main street, to avoid traffic jams in front of the hotel entrance.


Since the example in the picture appears to have no gate, but is more of an ornamental entrance for cars to enter one or more garages, I might call it an archway.

An arched or vaulted passage.

  • OED

My understanding based on searching a few definitions is that a carport is often the final destination of the car, not a mere passageway.

Of interest is this article outlining the distinctions between a garage and a carport:

The International Residential Code (IRC) and Florida Building Code (FBC) have a very specific way of defining the difference between carport and garage:

R309.2 Caports. Caports shall be open on at least two sides... Carports not open at least two sides shall be considered a garage.

It is because the example provided is not designed to be a resting place for the car but rather a passageway that I believe archway appropriately describes the architecture.

Here's an example use of archway from The Great Gatsby:

It was a photograph of half a dozen young men in blazer loafing in an archway through which were visible a host of spires. There was Gatsby, looking a little, not much, youger--with a cricket bat in his hand.

  • 2
    The thing shown in the question is neither arched nor vaulted, so I don't see the relevance of "archway". In any case, while some of these things might be arched, that's hardly a defining feature of them. "Archway" seems no more generally applicable than, say, "white-painted thing" would be. Jun 13, 2017 at 1:06
  • @DavidRicherby To be fair the structure does show a very flat elliptical arch. Given that the roof is probably trussed, I'd expect the arch to be decorative rather than structural.
    – Spagirl
    Jun 14, 2017 at 11:32

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