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Engineering, Science and Design Librarian

Art & Architecture Librarian

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Alex Watkins

Precedent Research

Search for Books

When searching for books, keep in mind most buildings won't have a book about them, instead search for the architect/studio. You can also find books on historical or vernacular architecture of an area for example search broadly for African architecture or Indonesian architecture.


Search for Articles

When searching articles use the title of the project (consider alternate building names!). However, if you want peer-reviewed scholarly articles, you will need to search by bigger ideas or themes, as there are probably not scholarly articles about specific buildings:

Find Plans and Drawings


Find Plans and Drawings in Magazines:

You can use Avery Index to search architecture magazines specifically for articles that include plans, drawings, elevations, axonometric drawings, sketches, maps, etc. Then requests scans of the articles using the Find it at CU button and requesting from Interlibrary Loan. Use the Document Feature check boxes in the advanced search to limit to articles with specific types of illustrations:

Screenshot of the document feature search filter in Avery with several features selected


Find Plans and Drawings in Books:

If you are looking for plans of a specific building there may be no book about that building in particular. However, it is probably in books about the architect in general, so it will be best to search for the architect. You may have to go to the call number section where all the books on that architect will be and look through different books to find plans of sufficient detail.

Architectural Journals

BrowZine allows you to browse and read journals from the CU Boulder Libraries, by subject. Monitor your favorite journals by creating your own bookshelf, where you'll get updates for new articles and issues.

Click the image below to browse through journals from the CU Boulder Libraries in the "Architecture" subject.

architecture journals

Architectural History Research

Books will often cover the whole breadth of an architectural movement, style, or architect, giving you essential contextual information:





Engineering, Building Codes and Costs

Building Codes:

What are Building Codes?

  • Rules for the construction of buildings and structures to protect safety and health
  • Address fire, safety, structure, plumbing, electrical and mechanical aspects of buildings
  • Codes are established by local municipalities but are often based on national recommendations


Find Building Codes

1. Search Local Municipality for Building Codes

  • Building codes are generally based on the International Code Council’s (ICC) model codes, but every state and municipality has its own code adoption process and may choose to modify codes to meet local needs. 
  • Conduct an internet search of local and state building codes and related information for your building site. 

2. Search for International Code Council (ICC) codes in MADCAD.


3. Search for municipal codes for thousands of U.S. Cities in Municode Library.


4. Other Important Guidelines for Building Design and Construction

  • Some important codes--such as fire and plumbing codes--are often not addressed specifically in building codes and may not be checked for when building plans are submitted for review. They may be discovered during physical inspection, so it is important to incorporate them into planning and design.


Colorado and Boulder Building Codes

Building Code Books:

Building Cost Books: