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Architecture & Interior Design Research Guide

Architecture Research Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I find information on a specific architect?
    If the library owns a book that deals entirely with the work of one architect, it can be found by doing a subject search in the online catalog, under the name of the architect or the firm with which he or she is associated. If you cannot find your architect in the library system, you can move on to biographical dictionaries and index journals.

    Journal indexes help you find information published in architecture and design journals on both contemporary and historical architects. Each index covers a different group of journals and a different time period, so if you strike out in one, try another.

    Biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias provide succinct biographical information and pertinent dates, degrees and projects. The best dictionary or encyclopedia for you to use will depend upon your architect and his or her relative importance, country of origin, or period of activity. Check with the library staff for help in selecting a biographical dictionary, or start with something basic like the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects or Contemporary Architects.

  2. How can I find information on a particular building?

    In a few cases, an entire book has been written on a single building, and such books are listed under the name of the building in the online catalog. For example, under Kimbell Art Museum you can find a listing for the book Light is the Theme: Louis I. Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum.

    Most of the time, however, you will have to search under the name of the architect in the online catalog or in journal indexes to find a discussion of the building you are researching within the context of the architect's work. If you do not know the name of the architect and cannot find anything under the name of the building in library catalog or journal indexes, do not despair. Do a subject search using the term "architecture" with the name of the state and city in which the building is located.

    Architecture - Ohio - Cincinnati

    The library owns many architectural guides to cities that will give brief information about most of the important buildings in the city, including their architects and dates of construction.

  3. How can I find information on the architecture of a specific country or historical period or type of building?
    The procedure to follow is basically the same as that described above: use the library catalog to find books and the journal indexes to find articles. To identify the term used to designate the period or type of building in the catalog, use the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Since most of the architecture journal indexes do not have official lists of subject terms, you have to rely on the cross-references given within the indexes or think of other, similar terms. If you cannot find your subject term in an index, check with the library staff.

    Art and architecture dictionaries and encyclopedias are a good starting place if you are unfamiliar with the period or subject you are researching. The articles in dictionaries and encyclopedias can supply a good background on subject, related terms that may be useful in your search for more information, and lists of relevant books and articles. The Encyclopedia of Architects, the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects, and the Dictionary of Art are good encyclopedias for architecture, and other items shelved near them on the reference shelves.

  4. How can I find plans of buildings?
    The following books provide good plans and photographs of major historical buildings:

    Sir Banister Fletcher's, a History of Architecture
    DAAP Reference NA200.F63 1987

    Encyclopedia of World Architecture: Design, Engineering & Construction
    DAAP Reference NA31.E59 1988 (5 volumes)

    Drawings of Great Buildings
    DAAP Reference NA2706.U6 D72 1983

    If your building is not included in the sources listed above, you may be able to find a plan in a book or journal article on the architect or period. Search the library catalog and journal indexes as described in Section 1 and 3 above.

  5. How can I find information on technical aspects of buildings and materials?
    Technical information on specific materials can be found in the various handbooks and manuals kept on the reference shelves. These can be found in the library catalog by doing a subject search under the name of the material discussed, for example:

    Steel-Handbooks, Manuals, etc.

    The architecture journal indexes discussed in Section 1 above can help you find articles in journals on specific technical subjects. The Engineering Library and the College of Applied Science Library have a great deal of information on this aspect of architecture.

  6. How can I find cost estimates for building materials or building construction?
    Try searching "Building Estimates" in the library catalog to find current publications that give price estimates for specific construction items and entire buildings.

  7. How can I find materials on energy and architecture?
    You can find books on energy and architecture by doing a subject search in the library catalog under the following headings:

    Architecture and Climate
    Architecture and Solar Radiation
    Solar Energy
    Solar Houses - Design and Construction

    You can find journal articles in the major architecture journals by looking in the Architectural Index under the heading ENERGY or SOLAR. To find articles in the technical and engineering journals, use the Applied Science and Technology Abstract or the Engineering Index.

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