UCB Libraries

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson

Monticello, Library of Congress photograph, via Flickr Commons

Subject Guide: Architecture & Design







  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Images
  • Plans, Sections, etc.
  • Materials
  • Building Codes
  • Web Resources
  • Evaluating & Citing Sources



This brief guide will help you find information on architecture, design, the built environment, and much more.

"Ultimately architecture is all about the creation of pleasant and stimulating settings for all aspects of social life. However, contemporary society is not standing still. Spatial arrangements evolve with the patterns of life."

Zaha Hadid in her acceptance speech for the Pritzker Architecture Prize, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2004. Full text of her speech is available here.

If you need additional assistance, please use Ask Us to contact a librarian via phone, email, IM, text message, or in person.


Keywords: What are you looking for?

Choosing appropriate search terms is an important first step in the research process. Take a few moments to brainstorm a list of keywords that describe your topic. Think of similar words that express the same concepts, broader and narrower terms, and important contextual information.


Your list of keywords might include:

  • name of structure, building, site, or location of interest
  • architect, designer, artist, or cultural group responsible for production
  • type of building (e.g. office, home, school, stadium, etc.)
  • location
  • era or time period of construction or design
  • style and/or materials
  • notable related events or people

In addition to generating a list of keywords, take time to think about how those keywords are related. In general, knowing broader terms will help you find books, while narrower terms will be more useful for finding articles.



Dictionaries & Encylopedias

Need help generating a list of terms related to your research topic, including contextual information? Try consulting one of the specialized reference resources listed below. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other tools can be very helpful during the early phases of your research.


Oxford Art Online

Specialized encyclopedia for art and architectural history. Entries are written by scholars in the field and include bibliographies and images. Most important reference resource for art history. Includes strong coverage for the history of architecture, landscape architecture, and related areas. VPN required for off-campus access.


Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture

Art & Arch Reference - N5610 .G76 2007


Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture

Art & Arch REF - N6260 .G75 2009


Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Art & Arch REF - NA31 .C86 2006

also available online


Encyclopedia of 20th Century Architecture

Art & Arch REF NA680 .E495 2004


The Elements of Style: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail

Art & Arch REF NA2850 .E44 2005


Dictionary of Architectural and Building Technology

Art & Arch REF NA31 .C63 2004


Encyclopedia of the Vernacular Architecture of the World

Art & Arch REF NA208 .E53 1997


This is a small selection of the electronic and print resources available in the Art & Architecture Reference Collection.


Handbooks & Guides

Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice

Art & Arch REF NA1996 .A726 2008 


Universal Design Handbook

Art & Arch REF NA2545.A1 U55 2001


Time-Saver Standards for Building Types

Art & Arch REF NA2760 .D42 2001


Dictionary of Ecodesign: An Illustrated Reference

Art & Arch REF NK1520 .Y43 2010


Abrams Guide to Period Styles for Interiors

Art & Arch REF NK1860 .G87 2005


Time-Saver Standards for Interior Design and Space Planning

Art & Arch REF NK2110 .D35 2001


Constructing Architecture: Materials, Processes, Structures

Art & Arch REF TA403 .C586 2005 


Time-Saver Standards for Architectural Design: Technical Data for Professional Practice

Engineering Library Stacks TH151 .T55 2005


Architectural Graphic Standards

Art & Arch REF TH2031 .A84 2007


Time-Saver Standards for Architectural Lighting

Engineering Library Stacks TK4188 .S753 2000


Complete Works of Major Architects

Multi-volume sets on the work of Aalto, Corbusier, Buckminster Fuller, Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright are located on a red shelf next to the current journals in the Art & Architecture Collection.


The Architectural Drawings of Alvar Aalto, 1917-1939

NA2707.A16 A4 1994


Le Corbusier Archive

NA 2707. L4 A4 1982d


The Artifacts of R. Buckminster Fuller: A Comprehensive Collection of His Designs and Drawings

TA174 .F86 1984


The Louis I. Kahn Archive: Personal Drawings: The Completely Illustrated Catalogue of the Drawings in the Louis I. Kahn Collection

NA2707.K33 A4 1987


The Mies van der Rohe Archive

NA2707.M55 A4 1986


Frank Lloyd Wright

NA2707.W74 A42 1984



Chinook - How to Find Books & More @ CU-Boulder

Chinook is the catalog for materials owned by the CU Libraries. You can do a title search for a specific book, or a keyword search if you are looking for books on a particular topic. You can also use MyChinook to renew books, see what you have checked out or on hold, and much more.

Chinook Catalog

When searching Chinook, you can connect your keywords using terms like AND, OR, NOT. You can also used parentheses, quotation marks, and asterisks.




AND: architecture AND theory (must find both terms)

Phrases: “urban design” (must find phrase in that order)

OR: urban OR city (must find one of the terms)

Synonyms: (urban OR city) AND design

NOT: Gehry NOT Bilbao (must find first term and not second term)

Wildcards: classic* will find classics, classical, classicizing, etc.


Prospector - How to Find Books @ Other Libraries in Colorado

If you search Chinook and find that the CU Libraries do not have the item you are looking for (or if the item you are looking for is checked out), you can search Prospector, which is a combined library catalog of many libraries in Colorado and Wyoming.


Prospector is the FASTEST way to get a book if it is unavailable here at CU-Boulder.


WorldCat - How to Find Books @ Any Library

WorldCat is an online catalog for over 9,000 libraries in the US and world wide, and it allows you to do a more thorough search than Chinook because you are not limited to only the items we already own. Instead, you are effectively searching the catalogs of most major libraries world wide.


For any books you find in WorldCat, you will be able to see if CU-Boulder owns that item. If you find something in WorldCat that we do not own, you should:

  1. Search Prospector to see if the book is available. If it is, request it via Prospector. The book will typically arrive in a few days, and you'll receive an email when it is ready for pick up.
  2. If the book isn't available via Prospector, you can request it via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Please be aware that items ordered via ILL can take up to several weeks to arrive. Obviously, if your assignment is due very soon, this will not be an option.


Accessing WorldCat from Off Campus
If you want to use WorldCat while you are off campus, you must use VPN. For more information about how to download and install VPN, see the library's page on Off Campus Access.



Choosing a Database

In order to find articles on your topic, you will need to use a database. The library provides access to hundreds of databases, and many of them focus on a particular discipline such art, art history, or architecture, or design.


The Find Articles & More page provides access to all of these resources and arranges them by subject.


VPN is required for off-campus access to library databases.


Architectural History

Art Full Text & Art Retrospective

Provides access to scholarship on art and architectural history from prehistory to the present. Some full text available. Art Full Text covers publications 1984-present, while Art Retrospective covers 1929-1984.


Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

Most important resource for researching the built environment. The only database that allows you to search for architectural drawings, including plans, sections, and elevations.


Engineering Village

With a focus on engineering literature, this database will help you find articles on structual or architectural engineering, construction, and related topics.



Provides full text access to a number of important journals for architectural history, including Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Garden History, Buildings & Landscapes, and several others.


Contemporary Architecture & Design

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

Most important resource for researching the built environment. The only database that allows you to search for architectural drawings, including plans, sections, and elevations.


Design & Applied Arts Index

Excellent resource for scholarship on design topics, including interior design, furniture, metals, ceramics, industrial design, product design, landscape architecture, and related topics in the the applied arts.


LexisNexis Academic

Full text of national and international news sources. Newspaper articles are an excellent resource for the study of contemporary architecture and design.



Image Resources from the Libraries


Over one million images of visual and material culture, covering all geographic areas and historical periods. VPN required for off-campus access.


Architecture & Planning Collection via CU Digital Library

Maintained by the College of Architecture & Planning Visual Resource Center, this collection of over 46,000 images focuses specifically on architecture, landscape architecture, and the built environment. VPN required for off-campus access.


Art & Art History Collection via CU Digital Library

Maintained by the Department of Art & Art History Visual Resources Collection. Provides access to a growing collection of high-quality digital images. VPN required for off-campus access.


AP Images

Search for images from the Associated Press. Useful for finding images from newspapers, magazines, wires, etc. Excellent source for photos of contemporary architecture. VPN required for off-campus access.


Aerial Photographs of Colorado

See the landscape of Colorado change over time via almost 1,700 digitized aerial photographs of Colorado taken by the U.S. Forest Service from 1938 to 1947.


The Map Library's collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are of particular value for architectural and planning research. These maps can be used to understand how urban and rural areas change over time, with particular emphasis on development, construction, land use, and property boundaries.


Image Resources on the Web

HABS/HAER/HALS - Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Collection

Images from the Historic American Buildings Survey, the Historic American Engineering Record, and the Historic American Landscapes Survey. Thousands of images documenting American architecture, engineering, and landscape design. New additions to the collections are contributed by the National Park Service's Heritage Documentation Programs.


Flickr & Flickr Commons

Useful source for images of architecture and historical sites. Note that user-contributed photos vary in quality. Flickr Commons contains images from photographic archives, museums, and libraries.


Google Image Search

Use the advanced search options to find larger, higher quality images.



Plans, Sections, & Information on CU-Boulder Campus Buildings

The CAD/GIS and Document Management Office maintains records for all campus buildings and projects. If you need drawings and other materials for a campus building, the CAD Office is happy to help. They are located on East Campus. Directions are available here.


Finding Plans, Sections, & Elevations in Books

As a general rule, the thicker the book the more likely you are to find specialized architectural renderings included along with photographs and other illustrations. Once you've found a book on your architect or structure, make use of the table of contents, list of illustrations, or index to find what you need faster.


Looking for plans of Jefferson's Monticello? Find books on Jefferson, Monticello itself, or the architecture of the colonial United States. Here is an example of a book that will likely contain plans, elevations, sections, and other drawings of Monticello:

Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Original Designs in the Coolidge Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society


Other commons sources of plans, sections, and elevations include:


Depending on the influence and importance of the structure or architect you are studying, you might also want to try searching using the following keyword combinations:

  • [name of building] AND plans
  • [name of architect] AND plans


Finding Plans, Sections, & Elevations in Journal Articles

The Avery Index is the most comprehensive database for researching modern and contemporary architecture, and it is the only database that allows you to search for articles that include plans, sections, elevations, and other drawings.


To find plans, sections, elevations, and drawings, use the Advanced Search option. Select "physical description" from the drop-down menu, and enter the kind of material you're looking for (e.g. plans, sections, etc.).


Try a few different searches using the architect's name and/or the building's name to see what kind of results each yields. Once you've found articles that you're interested in, use the "Find it at CU" link to retrieve full text (if available).


Using the Avery Index to find plans. Use the "physical description" drop-down menu.


Other Sources


Over one million images of visual and material culture, covering all geographic areas and historical periods. VPN required for off-campus access.


Architecture & Planning Collection via CU Digital Library

Maintained by the College of Architecture & Planning Visual Resource Center, this collection of over 46,000 images focuses specifically on architecture, landscape architecture, and the built environment. VPN required for off-campus access.



Print Resources

Time-Saver Standards for Building Materials & Systems: Design Criteria & Selection Data

Engineering Stacks TA404.5 .T56 2000 


Building Construction Cost Data

Engineering Reference TH435 .B84


Square Foot Costs

Engineering Reference TH435 .S78


Electronic Resources

Construction Materials: Their Nature and Behaviour

Engineering Stacks TA403 .C636 2001

or available as an e-book here [VPN required for off-campus access.]


Estimating Building Costs

Engineering Stacks TH435 .P67 2003

or available as an e-book here [VPN required for off-campus access.]


Sweets Network - http://products.construction.com/

product Data by McGraw Hill Construction

free online resource



Model Codes

A number of model codes developed by the International Code Council form the basis of local codes for building, energy conservation, fire, mechanical, plumbing, zoning, and other systems. The most recent editions of these model codes can be found in MADCAD.com. VPN required for off-campus access. Please note that we have a limited number of users for MADCAD. If you are turned away, try again later.


Prior editions of model codes are available in print in the Engineering Library.

International Building Code

International Fire Code

International Mechanical Code

International Plumbing Code


Regional & Municipal Codes

Building Code Reference Library

Want to know which relevant codes are in effect for a given state or municipality? This site provides information for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and major US cities.


Municode Library

Municipal codes for a selection of roughly 1,000 US cities.


Codes for the City of Boulder

Includes all city codes, such as building, electrical, energy, fire, housing, etc.



Information on Architects and Firms

Researching a contemporary architect or firm? Their own website can be a valuable source of information. For example, Zaha Hadid provides an overview of built works, recent publications, press releases, and much more.


The Pritzker Architecture Prize site provides basic information about laureates, as well as the full text of their acceptance speech.


Non-Scholarly Sources


Information about famous buildings and architects. Treat it like Wikipedia--a place to start, but not the most authoritative resource on your topic.


Great Buildings

Images and basic information about buildings and places. Treat it like Wikipedia--a place to start, but not the most authoritative resource on your topic.


CAD Blocks, Textures, and 3D Objects


Creative Commons licensed 2D and 3D objects, CAD blocks, and textures.


Google 3D Warehouse

3D objects for use with Google SketchUp and other tools.



Meta-search for models and textures from many different sources. Not all images are free; legalese varies by source.



How to Evaluate a Website

So you've found a website, and it looks like it might be useful. But how do you know if it is trustworthy? Scott Rosenberg has written an excellent guide to evaluating websites. The instructions below are adapted from his "In the context of Web context: How to check out any Web page."


What is the site's top-level domain?

Is it an educational site (.edu)? A government site (.gov)? Or a commercial site that anyone can produce (.com, .info, .net, etc.)? While a .edu or .gov domain does not guarantee trustworthy content, it can give you an indication of who authored the site or is maintaining it.


Does the site have ads?

Are the ads the primary focus of the site? Are they for products and services related to the site's content? Generally, the more ads you see, the less authoritative the website is.


Can you find out who is responsible for the site?

Is an author listed anywhere? Is there contact info or a feedback form? Does the author claim any credentials? Do those check out if you search for more info on the author?


Does the site contain references, sources, or links?

Do those references point to reputable sites? Or questionable ones?


Is the content unique? And does it make sense?

Google a chunk of text. Does it show up word-for-word on other sites? This could be a cause for concern. In addition, if the content is little more than a pile of disconnected keywords, the site might be just link bait.


Scholarly vs. Popular Sources





Original research presented with evidence, critical arguments, and other material.

Discussion includes personal opinions, and typically focuses on material for entertainment or leisure.


Author's credentials are given, usually a scholar with subject expertise.

Author may or may not be named; often a professional writer; may or may not have subject expertise.


Editorial board is listed on cover or near the Table of Contents. Some publications may also note that articles are refereed by peer reviewers.

No editors listed and no referee process described.


Scholars, researchers, students.

General public; the interested non-specialist.


May use specialized terminology.

Vocabulary in general usage; understandable to most readers.

References (Endnotes, Footnotes, etc)

Required. All quotes and facts can be verified. A bibliography is also usually included.

Rare. Little, if any, information about sources.


Contribute to your understanding of the text; could include diagrams, charts, or other technical material.

Often merely provide pleasing visual content rather than support for assertions in the text.

Example Publication

Buildings & Landscapes

Architectural Record


Citation Styles & Management

For information about citing print and electronic sources in a range of styles, see “How to Cite a Source.”


Using MLA Style? See the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Using Chicago Style?  See the Chicago Style Quick Guide or the full version of the Chicago Manual of Style.


Writing a longer paper and need to keep track of citations? RefWorks allows you to save citations and retrieve them later using "Find it at CU" buttons. Citations from most databases can be easily exported directly to RefWorks. RefWorks can also create bibliographies in virtually any citation style, and can be used with Microsoft Word to format footnotes and endnotes correctly. Zotero is a similar tool that is available for free.


Need More Help?

Wondering if you're citing something correctly? Or maybe you need help with structuring your paper? Take advantage of the CU Writing Center. Making an appointment with a consultant at the Writing Center allows you to receive one-on-one help with your writing.


Want to speak with a librarian right now? You can contact us in person, via the phone, or even over IM. Use the Ask Us page to chat with a librarian even if you're away from campus.