Standards > Architectural Records


Related Standards > Schrock, Nancy Carlson and Mary Campbell Cooper. Records in Architectural Offices: Suggestions for the Organization, Storage and Conservation of Architectural Office Archives. Mass COPAR, 1992.

"While there is no uniform definition of "architectural records" in general it includes architectural drawings, and anything related to architectural design including published works, specifications, photographs, postcards, correspondence with clients, etc. The underlying concept being that no building exists in a vacuum, it is part of a larger built environment and the architectural records provide some of the background for better understanding the building and its surroundings, and the architect."

Wrenn, Tony P. "Publications on Architectural Records," General Issue, CRM Vol.17, No.9, 1994.

"Architectural records are significant as documents of an artistic process. Indeed, many architectural drawings have great intrinsic beauty and are works of art in their own right. They are also important as records of a society, as tools for the maintenance and renovation of existing buildings, as historical records of buildings that no longer exist, as documentation of unbuilt designs, and as legal evidence. Architecture distinguishes itself from other art forms in that it is a product of society as a whole rather than the vision of a single artist.…"

Ingrid E. Bogel, Executive Director and Debra Hess Norris, Chair of the Board of Directors, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. From Conference Introduction, Architectural Records Conference Report, held at Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, Philadelphia, PA, May 3 through 5, 2000.


Principles for the Recording of Monuments, Groups of Buildings and Sites, ICOMOS, Sophia, Bulgaria, 1996

Schrock, Nancy Carlson, and Mary Campbell Cooper, Records in Architectural Offices: Suggestions for the Organization, Storage, and Conservation of Architectural Office Archives, Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, Cambridge, MA, June 1992,.


AIA Library & Archives, The American Institute of Architects. A collection of over 40,000 volumes, 3,000 rare books and serials, and 200 periodical titles. The Library holds complete runs of the American Architect and Building News, as well as Sweets Catalogs from 1953 to present. Library: (202) 626-7490 / 7489; Archives: (202) 626-7496.

A Guide to the Description of Architectural Drawings, A product of a collaboration between the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP) the Architectural Drawing Advisory Group (an international consortium), and the Foundation for Documents of Architecture (a nonprofit corporation).

Built in America, Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. The collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types and engineering technologies. This online presentation of the HABS/HAER collections includes digitized images of measured drawings, black-and-white photographs, color transparencies, photo captions, data pages including written histories, and supplemental materials.

Architectural Records Conference Report, conference held at Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, Philadelphia, PA, May 3 through 5, 2000. The following papers are particularly pertinent:

Lowell, Waverly, Director, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. Establishing Intellectual Control and Access to Architectural Records.

"In order to provide intellectual control to collections of architectural records, it is essential to understand the nature of records creation. This includes developing a familiarity with design development and project construction; with the players - architects, clients, contractors; and with the types of documents created by the architectural process. This knowledge guides the development of standards and systems for organizing collections and creating a link between the physical records and access to them.

".…This lecture will provide an overview of the architectural process and the records it generates, as well as review basic principles for arrangement and description that combine archival standards with a knowledge of architectural records and their consistency."

Lowell, Waverly, Director, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. A Standard Approach to Arrangement and Description of Architectural Records.

"In many institutions, each collection has been processed as if it were a unique entity. Or collections are described with biographical or historical notes and folder lists, without including a description of the hierarchical arrangement of the records. Or depending on the contents of a collection, series may have names that vary only slightly or are arranged differently. This subjective arrangement and description is hard on the staff, hard on the researchers, and hard to input electronically. People and computers both like consistency.

".…This presentation will describe different levels of description available for architectural records and demonstrate a standard method developed for use at different levels."

Shepherd, Kelcy, Archivist, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. Electronic Access to Architectural Collections.

"A variety of existing and developing standards for electronic description will be introduced, but the presentation will focus on MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging) and EAD (Encoded Archival Description), standards used by libraries and archives. These two methods of description provide a framework to explore issues relating to the evaluation of electronic descriptive practices..… Examples of electronic access projects and databases from a variety of cultural heritage institutions will be used to illustrate the discussion."

Cohen, Jeffrey A., Lecturer, Growth and Structure of Cities Program, and Director, Digital Media and Visual Resource Center, Bryn Mawr College. Makers' Motives and Users' Pathways in the Documentation of Place.

"Architectural records, taken broadly, embrace a great range of documents of place, from the architect's drawings to deed records, old photographs, directories, insurance policies, descriptive recollections, and financial records. The creation of such documentation of place reflects a wide range of motives, often quite distinct from the motives of contemporary users who wish to consult them.

"..…A key challenge for modern repositories is to span and connect these motives. These motives are sometimes skewed, but often intersecting. This paper will explore both sets of motives and some of the ways they intersect, looking at the example of Philadelphia-area documentary resources and some bridging tools currently being explored."

Nelb, Tawny Ryan, Archivist and Records Consultant, Nelb Archival Consulting. Preservation Management and Planning for Architectural Records.

"Preservation is in the very nature of why we gather together architectural records for legal, administrative, evidential, fiscal, or historical purposes. No less important than how materials are evaluated and described intellectually, is how these often oversized documents are housed, brought to the user for research, and stored securely in the proper environment for their long-term survival. The elements of preservation management include identification of problem areas in the repository such as lax security, temperature and humidity fluctuations, potential water entry points, researcher behavior that might damage collections (such as tracing), lack of a disaster plan, and problems in individual record collections like unsafe housing or the poor condition of specific documents. Preservation management goes a long way to eliminating or at least mitigating potential problems and allows for a consistent and budgeted approach to "best practice" standards instead of simply reacting to preservation crises.

Irving, Joan, Conservator, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA). Housing Recommendations for Architectural Records: The Sacred and the Profane.

"This presentation is a corollary to Lois Olcott Price's talk, focusing on housing and storage recommendations for architectural drawing papers and image-making materials to 1950. Making practical storage recommendations for these drawings is daunting, considering the wide variety of materials, the sheer size of some drawings, and the volume of works in larger collections. Traditional conservation prescriptions for single, precious items, or the "sacred," are sometimes useful and appropriate. More often than not, they ignore the pressing storage problems of most collection materials - the too big, too numerous, or too deteriorated - i.e., the "profane". This talk will offer storage, housing, and handling ideas for both the sacred and the profane."

Aeck, Tony, AIA, Principal, Lord, Aeck & Sargent. Current and Emerging Documentation and Archiving Methods in Architectural Practice.

"Advancing technologies make a greater breadth of information easily accessible, and a more efficient design process is emerging, resulting in more effective communication of design intent..…More capital is required to invest in systems and to train and maintain a proficient workforce, as well as to preserve the data generated. Archiving technology faces a major challenge to keep pace, making the storage of raster images a popular but increasingly inadequate solution for many types of architectural records."

Mattix, Carla, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor, Department of the Interior. Legal Issues for Architectural Record.

"This presentation provides an outline of the copyright, privacy, publicity, and public record laws that govern the creation and use of such records. Obtaining proper permissions and releases for personal information or use of existing records will also be addressed."

Horst, Bradley. Director of Information Technology, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbot. Guidelines for Managing and Preserving Electronic Files in an Architectural Firm.

Recent growth in the use of Internet, Project Extranet and Facilities Management environments has increased the importance of architects' ability to collect, organize, synthesize and communicate information effectively throughout the life cycle of a project.…To make things more complicated, hardware and software compatibility is still relatively immature in that it prevents transparent information integration and transfer.…Simply put, an architect must be able to locate critical content within the vast pool of information so that it can be retrieved and applied at the proper place and time. File systems, naming conventions, network architecture, and — equally important — discipline, are among the many tools at your disposal when your firm sets out to organize its internal, electronic corporate data."

Kozbial, Ardys, Manager, Property Information Resource Center, Harvard Planning and Real Estate, Harvard University. Guidelines for Documentation of Construction Projects.

"The PIRC [Property Information Resource Center] has made an attempt to gather useful, legal documentation at the end of capital projects by creating standards and guidelines that architects and their sub-contractors follow when working on these projects at Harvard. However, at this point in time, more questions than answers surface when discussing documentation of construction projects."

Society of American Archivists (SAA) Architectural Records Roundtable, Nicholas Olsberg, Conference
Chair, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 1920 rue Baile, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3H 2S6. Proceedings
and conference statement now being prepared for publication, possibly as an issue of the American Archivist.

Categories for the description of architectural drawings, including: subject/built works, people/corporate bodies, geographic locations, and bibliographic sources. The National Archives of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Architecture were involved in the production of this guide. The Guide, as such, is not definitive, but is meant to be a step toward cataloguing standards. Although principally concerned with architectural drawings, many of these guidelines may be applied to—and at times specifically address—related materials, including models, prints, and photographs.

Porter, Vicki, and Robin Thornes. A Guide to the Description of Architectural Drawings, Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall, 1994. Publication of the Architectural Drawings Advisory Group, Foundation for Documents in Architecture, on behalf of the Getty Art History Information Program.

Schrock, Nancy Carlson, and Mary Campbell Cooper, Records in Architectural Offices: Suggestions for the Organization, Storage, and Conservation of Architectural Office Archives, Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, P. O. Box 129, Cambridge, MA 02142, June 1992, $12.00, plus $3.00 for mailing. Toward standards for architectural archives, proceedings of a two-day conference made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, February l984, Washington, DC: American Architectural Foundation, out-of-print.

This short book (44 pages) is organized into five major sections. The first section, "Current Practice," covers the types of records, organization of project information, records retention, storage, firms of different sizes, and examples of records systems in use. The section on "Organizing Office Records" discusses the general principles of records management, the value of records management, implementation of a records program, organizing drawings, vital records, and organization of the archives. "Preserving Office Records" covers the various types of materials created in architects offices, such as written documents, drawings, computer records, photographs, microforms, and then covers reformatting for preservation, environment and storage, and a summary of recommendations. [Review by Tawny Ryan Nelb.]

Co-operative Preservation of Architectural Records (COPAR) Publications. COPAR is a national effort made up of regional committees, formed to create a venue to share holdings as well as expertise in managing such records.

A Newsletter for COPAR, a national clearing house of information on architectural records and architectural records repositories, published quarterly by the Library of Congress and The Metropolitan Washington COPAR, editor, Sally Sims Stokes, National Trust for Historic Preservation Library, McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Published and mailed by the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, free. Data on architectural records or queries on same, plus changes and additions to the mailing list should be sent to Ms. Stokes, the editor.

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