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Architecture: Research a Building

Resources in support of first-degree and graduate studio programs in architecture

Find Precedents: Search by Building Type x Historical Period

[TIP:  Building Types Online is an excellent resource for identifying precedents.]

For any precedent study, historical and typological contexts matter! Monographs and book-length surveys are the most useful resources for establishing a building's meaning and significance. Look for these in the library catalog:

EXAMPLE: In the catalog, use AND to focus a building type search by historical period. For more focused search, use an additional search box.

IN FIRST SEARCH BOX:  (religious OR church* OR sacred) AND architecture


IN SECOND SEARCH BOX:  modern OR contemporary OR 20th-century OR 21st-century

TIP: Search by subject headings, rather than keywords. Combine with AND/OR, as needed, for best coverage and focus:

     Choose one: Church buildings OR Religious architecture -- either one of these is a subject heading applied by catalogers

     Combine with: Architecture, Modern -- 20th century
                      OR Architecture, Modern -- 21st century

Research a Specific Building

Some facets to consider:

BUILDING NAME - a building may be known by several names (at once or over time), including variant names (Fallingwater or Falling Water), its street address (30 Rockefeller Plaza), or relationship to a client (Kaufmann Residence, Trump Tower, Wells Fargo Center). Collect them all!

BUILDING TYPE - often defined by function (which can change over time) but just as often defined by form or program

DATE - of design, start of construction, or construction completion; subsequent important dates: renovation, demolition

LOCATION/CONTEXT - urban, zero lot, suburban, rural,...its relationship to its built and landscape environs

DESIGNER - may be a single individual, or an architect, or multiple architects over time, or a design firm. Place of building within architect's life work.

PATRON/CLIENT - may be anonymous (vernacular), an individual, institution, government, or corporate entity

PERIOD/STYLE - periods are defined relationally as much as by time; styles can be revisited from one epoch to the next [e.g., classical, neoclassical, classical revival]

BUILDING TECHNOLOGY - construction method & materials, technological innovations or significance, structure

SIGNIFICANCE - historical, technological, aesthetic, cultural: first, last, best, tallest, largest, worst, "only example of ___," etc.

CHANGES OVER TIME - alterations, additions, renovations, restorations, catastrophic damage, demolition