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Living Architecture Systems: Find precedent projects

Finding architectural drawings using Avery Index

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals is the only comprehensive guide to the journal literature of architecture, and your first choice finding precedent projects.

  1. Search for a building or architect's or architectural firm's name in quotes in the Advanced Search using the Anywhere option, e.g. "ICD/ITKE research pavilion" or "jenny sabin".
  2. You can filter your results by limiting them to a certain document type, by language, or asking Avery to only return articles with plans, sections, elevations, et. cetera, with the document feature filter

Avery Index Advanced Search using the 'Anywhere' option to search for buidling project "hemerocopium house" in quotation marks.

Avery Index Docuement type and Document feature filtures, with Journal Article selected for type, and searchibg for details, drawing and elevations.

Building Types Online

In addition to searching in Avery index for articles with architectural drawings and images of your precedent project, also search Building Types Online (or BTO). BTO is a databases which has vector-based architectural drawings, photographs, articles and case studies of modernist and  contemporary buildings, &and other built works digitally reproduced from Birkhäuser publications.

Project entries also include information about the building (dimensions, year of completion, construction method), description/summary of the project, and often a bibliography.

BTO is fairly new database, so the collection of drawings is still growing.

Drawings from Building Types Online

Click on Download PDF to download the drawing onto your computer.

Drawings may or may not include dimensions or a scale bar.  Musagetes Library staff can help you locate GIS data on your building site and footprint. You can then bring drawings from BTO into your digital drawing, and scale them to fit onto the footprint.

Some projects may include more than just your typical plans, sections, and elevations. For example, below is a schematic representation of the out and inner layers of the Louvre Abu Dubai's dome.

Citing BTO building entries

There is also a cite option in Building Types online which automatically generates a bibliography reference for the entry. You can change this to Chicago style, and copy it to your clipboard. Note, that you will also have to cite all architectural drawing and photographs downloaded from BTO individually and give credit to the creators of those items.

Searching books

Search Omni, the library catalogue to locate print and electronic books held by Waterloo, and 17 other university and college libraries in Ontario.


Advanced search

Not every building or project will have an entire book or book chapter devoted to them, so you might not find information by searching for the building/project name name, so try the following:

  1. to search for a project, enter the building/project name in quotes in the Advanced Search using the Any field option, e.g. “ICD/ITKE research pavilion".
  2. next, search for books on the architect by entering their first and last name in quotes in the Advanced Search using the Any field option, e.g. “philip beesley". You can scope your searches to show results only from the Musagetes Architecture Library, but you will miss books from other libraries that you can request through Omni, or interlibrary loan.

NOTE: Look to see if the title mentions a time period, or scroll down to the Details section in the catalogue record, and check that that the date of the project's construction falls before the publication date.

Searching Buidling Types Online

Click in the basic search box to begin.

The advanced search option will automatically pop up. The default is full text searching, but you can also change your parameters to search for a person (which includes both individual architects, and architectural firms), place, title of the project, et cetera. I've noticed some projects do not appear in my results if I use the person option. I typically just do full text searching.

Enter the building, architect's, or architectural firm's name in the search field. You can also add lines, and the NOT Boolean operator to build search statements.

Since the database does full-text searches, you may get back articles that only briefly mention your project or architect. To filter those out, go to the Type filter in the navigation menu, and select Projects. You can also filter your results by location of the building (city or country). I never use publication date as a filter since it does not align with the actual completion date of the project.

You can change how many results you see on a page (10, 20, 50 or 100), and resort by relevance, date (newest or oldest first), or alphabetically by title (A-Z or Z-A).