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Interior Architecture: Finding Building Plans and Sections

How to search for and find infomation and images for Interior Architecture

Where to find building plans


There are three main ways to find architectural drawings and building plans.

We recommend looking at:

  • websites (including library databases)
  • journal articles
  • books

Because the method of searching in them is little different we've created three different galleries below to show the best ways to find things.


Centre Pompidou

You've been given an assignment where you have to research Centre Pompidou in Paris. As part of the assignment you've been asked to find plans, elevations and sections.

Where can you find these on the web? Click through the gallery to find out!

Slide image by Lachmann-Anke, P., & Lachmann-Anke, M. [@Peggy-Marco]. 2016, [Centre Pompidou] [Stock image], Pixabay,

Building plan from Birkhauser Building Types

The Library subscribes to one main database/website for building plans, Birkhauser Building Types Online (linked at the bottom of page)Birkhauser doesn't have every building out there, but if you can find your building here you'll find great high quality drawings, as well as a page of information containing specs, images and a page of background on how the building was made, complete with a bibliography for further reading.

Slide image by Renzo Piano & Rogers, R. n.d. Ground floor with surroundings [Image]. Birkhauser Building Types Online.

Building plans from Google Images

When Googling, just be sure you have exactly the right building. There is a Centre Pompidou Metz and a Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, for instance.

Try to use building plan images from the architect's own website if available and when referencing, follow images found on Google Images and Pinterest back to their original source. 

To supplement your drawings with discussion of buildings, you can use the library's book and journal collections.

Slide image from Google Image Search,.2020.

Journal articles

Image of the Gherkin by Foster and Partners

You've been given an assignment to find architectural drawings of The Gherkin in London..

Can journal articles provide you with the drawings you need?  Click through the gallery below to find out!

Slide image from Pexels [@Pexels]. 2016. [The Gherkin in skyline] [Stock image]. Pixabay.

Avery index result in library catalogue

Step 1: Look up the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals in the catalogue (it's also linked at the bottom of page)

Avery Index is useful because you can specify that you want architectural drawings when you search. One of the disadvantages of the database is that there is very little full text, which means you will have to do a little detective work to find the article containing the drawings.

Click through the rest of the gallery to learn how:


Advanced Search in Avery Index

Step 2: In the Avery Index use the Advanced Search option.

When you use Advanced Search you can specify building plans, sections and elevations. Advanced search lives just above the search pane on the landing screen.

Specifying building plans and sections in advanced search

Step 3: Use the Document Feature box within Advanced Search to select Plans and Sections and whatever other drawing types you want to see. 

search syntax -

Step 4: Enter the name of the building you'd like to search for in one of the search boxes. You can also enter the name of the architect if you want.

Some buildings have more than one name. For example the Gherkin in London is also called "30 St Mary Axe" and "Swiss Re". If you have two names for a building, search for their names surrounded by double quotes and with OR written between them, like in the picture above.

Step 5: Browse the results and search for full text

Don't be surprised if you don't find any full text PDFs in your search. If there aren't any full text PDFs beneath an article there should be a link saying 'Find it' instead.

If the artice is available in full elsewhere you should see a new page open with links that look like this (see next slide).

Catalogue result for article found in Avery Index

Step 6: If full text is available, follow the link!


Catalogue result for book found via Avery Index

Step 7: If FInd It refers you to a Library book..

It's also possible that Find It will refer you to a book in the library collection. These books are mostly found on level 9 of the library. If your book is listed as being in Reserve then it will be on level 7 of the library. Reserve items can only be borrowed for 3 hours. 

If you don't see a link to the article or a page with book call numbers you'll probably see a page saying 'How to Get It - Interlibrary Loan'. If you see this, click forward to Step 8 in the gallery.

Step 8:  If you see a link saying 'Get it for me from other libraries'

If you see this text it means the Library can't get access to the full text of the article right away. If you are a postgraduate student or staff, you can still get the Library to seek out the article via Interlibrary Loan. 

Clicking on the link will bring up a form. The catalogue should prefill this content for you, but if not there are 4 mandatory fields indicated by red asterisks.

After you submit the form the Library will (where available) source your article in PDF form from another university and email it to you.

In books

You've got an assignment on the Seagram Building. Can you use books to find architectural drawings?

Along with journal articles and websites, books are a good source of building drawings. Click through the slide show to learn how to find them at UTS.

Slide image Stoller, E. 1958. Seagram Building interior, corner office [Photograph]. ArtStor.

Seagram building book in Library catalogue

Step 1: Search the Library Catalogue

Type the name of the project, and possibly also the architect eg: seagram building van der rohe. If successful, you'll see a catalogue page like the one above. 

Our architecture books are mostly print. If you see a page with call numbers (eg: 725.2 MIES in the picture above) use those numbers to locate the book on the Library shelves. 

Most architecture books are on level 9 of the Library. f your book is listed as being in Reserve it will be on level 7. Reserve items can only be borrowed for 3 hours. 

If you don't find a book using the catalogue, click forward to the next slide in the gallery.

Skyscraper book from Proquest ebooks

Step 2: Try the ebook holdings in Proquest.

Proquest contains the ebrary ebook service (linked below this box) which is very large collection. Because Proquest can run a full text search on the entire contents of a book it makes for a powerful search

'Plans elevations and sections - Great buildings of the 20th century' - book from Google books.

Step 3: Try Google Books.

If the Google book preview allows access and you can see the plans, then lucky you! If not, try the website or book gallery and see if you fare better there. 

Slide image from Google Books search, 2020.