Frank Lloyd Wright. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. c. 1959. Getty Research Institute.

Guide to Finding the Best Resources

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective information research in architecture.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Meredith Wisner
Art & Architecture Librarian


Dictionaries, Encyclopedias & Bibliographies | Style Guides | Books |
Journal Databases | Images | Bibliography

Browse The Stacks (NA1 - 9428)

About Avery Library: Avery Library is one of the finest architecture libraries in the world. You will find most of the materials you are looking for in their collection. Avery is also a research library, and as such it does not lend its books for home use (with the exception of the Ware Collection).  If you find something at Avery that you would like to take it home, you can scan the material or order it through Borrow Direct (faster) or Interlibrary Loan.

Avery uses multiple call number systems.  "Avery," which is their older system, and "Avery-LC," which refers to the later adoption of the Library of Congress system. You can browse the "Avery-LC" books by broad topics by using the guide below. See the Guide to Locating Items in Avery Library to find books using both call number systems.

Also note that Avery has the Fine Arts and Ware collections, which are also shelved separately. Unlike the rest of Avery, the Ware collection is circulating.

LC Call Number Subject
NA1 - 60 General
NA100 - 130 Architecture and the State
NA190 - 1555.5 History
NA1995 Architecture as a profession
NA2000 - 2320 Study and teaching. Research
NA2599.5 - 2599.9 Architectural criticism
NA2695 - 2793 Architectural drawing and design
NA2835 - 4050 Details and decorations
NA4100 - 8480 Special classes and buildings
NA4170 - 7020 Public buildings
NA4590 - 5621 Religious architecture
NA7100 - 7884 Domestic architecture. Houses. Dwellings
NA9000 - 9428 Aesthetics of cities. City planning and beautifying

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias & Biographies



Oxford Art Online: is the access point for Grove Art Online and the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, and other Oxford art reference resources. It contains subject enteries, biographies, bibliographic citations, images and image links. Also includes information on architects and architecture.

Oxford Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape ArchitectureThis online volume has entries on architects, terms, periods, and styles, covering all periods of Western architectural history. Entries include definitions of landscape terms, and biographies of modern architects. Each entry is followed by a mini-bibliography, with suggestions for further reading list.

SAH ArchipediaPublished by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press , this resource is an authoritative online encyclopedia of the built world. It contains histories, photographs, and maps for more than 8,500 structures and places.

Dynamic National Archive: A database of women architects and designers.


Encyclopedia of American Architecture. New York: McGraw-Hill, c1994 (Avery AA705 H911
Includes entries on architects, building types, and materials.

Encyclopedia of 20th Century Architecture. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004 (Avery Reference AA650 En19)
Covers architecture created from 1900 - 2000. Includes architects, buildings, location, and topics including movements and theorhetical terms. Also includes further reading and related bibliography.

Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997 (Avery AA200 En19)
Arranged in two parts: theories and principles, and cultures and habitats.

Architectural Style Guides

Style guides are visual reference resources of architectural styles and types. The following resources are availble only in print.

American Architecture since 1780: A Guide to the Styles. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992. (Avery AA705 W571)
Contains photographs and discriptions of the history of each architectural style.

Architectural Styles: A Visual Guide, London: Laurence King Publishing, 2014. (Avery-LC NA204.H67 2014g)
From antiquity to the 1980s. Global in scope. Includes a section "main features that distinguish styles" and a glossary. 

Concise History of Architectural Styles. London: A. & C. Black, 2003. (Avery Reference AA204 C74)
Covers ancient Egypt to the 19th century.

Elements of Style: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. 
(Avery NA2850 .E445 2012g)
A quick guide to elements of domestic artchitecture, (such as doors, windows, staircases, etc.), and how the form of these elements has changed over time.

The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details, from 1485 to the Present. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. (Avery AA2840 EL271)
With over 5,000 drawings, photographs and historic illustrations, this guide provides an quick overview to the interior elements of a building and how they've evolved over time.

Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. (Avery NA7205 .M35 2013)
An overview of the essential styles of American Domestic Architecture (including urban, suburban and rural dwellings). Includes photographs, maps and drawings.

Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1994. (Avery AA7205 C19)
A comprehensive guide to the physical features and structural underpinnings of domestic architecture in the United States.

What Style is it? A Guide to American Architecture. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2004 (Avery Reference AA705 P811)
Over 200 images, with concise descriptions, covering American architecture from the colonial period to the early 20th century.



CLIO: CLIO is the online catalog to Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard, but excluding Teacher's College and the Law Library. 

CLIO Search Tips:

  • Use the Catalog serch to find books, journal and newspaper titles, media materials, musical scores, archival collections and databases (but not articles within databases). You can also find maps and atlases.
  • Article Search allows you to search articles indexed in all of Columbia's databases
  • Search for specific e-journal titles using the E-journal Title search
  • Use the link to Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan when the book or media item is checked out.

ArcadeArcade unites the collections of the Frick Art Reference Library and the libraries of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. It provides access to research collections spanning the spectrum of art history, from ancient Egypt to contemporary art. The MoMA's collection is particularly strong in architectural resources.

Getty Research PortalThis free online search platform provides global access to digitized art history texts in the public domain. Through this multilingual, multicultural union catalog, scholars can search and download complete digital copies of publications for the study of art, architecture, material culture, and related fields.

WorldCat: Searches the library catalogs of libraries and archives worldwide.


Journal Article Databases


Please Note: the databases listed below are only a small selection of available databases in art and architecture. For the complete list, including specialized databases relating to specific disciplines and cultures, please follow this link.

Art & Architecture Source: This database covers a broad range of related subjects, from fine, decorative and commercial art, to various areas of architecture and architectural design. It database features full-text articles as well as detailed indexing and abstracts for an array of journals, books, podcasts and more.

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals: Created by Avery Library, at Columbia University, this database offers a comprehensive listing of journal articles on architecture and design, including subjects such as the history and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, city planning, historic preservation, and interior design and decoration. Full text articles are linked to through e-link. The database also includes indexing of foreign and hard to find journals. Also available through EBSCO

British Architectural Library Catalogue (RIBA): This catalog features books, journals, drawings, photographs, slides, manuscripts, audio-visual and other material in the British Architectural Library, and an index to approximately 300 architectural periodicals. Includes a biographical database of British architects.

Design and Applied Art Index (DAAI)DAAI’s periodical index covers articles from 1973 to the present. It contains annotated references to articles in design and craft journals, and covers both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century.

JSTOR: JSTOR is a multi-disciplinary full text article database that covers many scholarly journals, from the first issue of each journal (including some started in the nineteenth century) up to 3 to 5 years ago. 


Artstor: Provides more than on million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities and sciences with a suite of tools for research.

Cities/Buildings Database. A collection of imagery of buildings and cities drawn from across time and throughout the world, available to students, researchers and educators on the web. The database can be searched by name of building, architect/builder, or country.

Great Buildings Collection  This gateway to architecture around the world and across history documents a thousand buildings and hundreds of leading architects, with 3D models, photographic images and architectural drawings, commentaries, bibliographies, web links, and more, for famous designers and structures of all kinds.

Mapping Gothic France Initiated by Stephen Murray, Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and Andrew Tallon, Assistant Professor of Art at Vassar College and funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this open source project provides new ways to understand the relationship of hundreds of buildings conventionally described as "Gothic” in France.

NYPL Digital Gallery Over 700,000 images digitized from the New York Public Library's vast collections including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, floor plans, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs.

RIBApix The world’s most extensive visual archive devoted to architecture, the British Architectural Library at the Royal Institute of British Architects world architecture covers all periods together with related subjects such as interior design, landscape, topography, planning, construction and the decorative arts.

SkyscraperPage Global Cities & Buildings Database Featuring skyscraper diagram illustrations, a world-wide buildings database, and skyscraper-themed discussion forums, this resource is for skyscraper and urbanism enthusiasts. A searchable database with images and statistics to over 80,000 high-rise buildings from around the world.

Bibliography Resources

  • CiteSource (Trinity College) and Purdue OWL (Purdue University Online Writing Lab) offer free online resources for creating footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies in a variety of citation styles (including Chicago and MLA).
  • Zotero is a software platform that allows you to save resources you find in library catalogues, databases, as well as pages from the web. It can even pull the full text pdf associated with a catalog record when available. With Zotero you can organize your research and export resources into a Word document formatted to whatever citation style you need.