How to Find Architectural Drawings

Whether you want to study the design of famous buildings, locate the blueprint to a specific house or building, or develop your own architectural skills, there are several resources available to help you determine how to find architectural drawings. You simply need to know what type of blueprints you are looking for and then go to the appropriate source.


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    Search online databases. Databases hold a large number of architectural plans, which feature buildings from all over the world. Some online databases are available only if you are a member on their site, but many colleges and universities offer free access to their students.
    • The Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals is the most comprehensive database, covering more than 700 journals that feature articles on housing, architecture, city planning, interior design, and historic preservation.
    • Other databases include the Bibliography of the History of Art, Design & Applied Arts Index, Art Bibliographies Modern, and Art Full Text.
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    Check out books. Several books compile architectural drawings of famous buildings, as well as great designs for architects and others to study. Visit your local library or go online to find a copy of these or similar books.
    • Drawings of Great Buildings, by Monica Stucky.
    • Key Contemporary Buildings, by Rob Gregory.
    • Key Buildings of the 2oth Century, by Richard Weston.
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    Contact local government offices. Most states require people to file a complete set of their blueprints and building specifications so they can get permission to build. This is also usually required if someone is significantly remodeling or adding on to the building.
    • Check the offices of building inspectors, zoning boards, local planning committees, building departments, and public work officials.
    • If the building is considered historical, you can also contact the local historical society to see if they have a copy of its architectural drawings or can point you to where old maps and drawings are stored.
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    Ask builders and maintenance workers. Builders, contractors, and architects keep a set of the blueprints they designed or used for their buildings.
    • If you know which company built a house or building, call their offices to see if they make their architectural drawings available to the general public. If you do not know who built it, call local real estate professionals and ask if they can help.
    • Engineers and physical plant managers may also have a copy of the blueprints, as they regularly work to maintain buildings.
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    Contact previous owners. Property can switch hands many times. Search for previous building owners and ask if they have the architectural drawings. If they do not, continue researching owners and going back in time until you have exhausted all possible leads.


  • Houses in the same neighborhood may have the same structure. If you cannot find the original blueprints to your house, ask a neighbor if they still have theirs. Or, find the construction company who built all of the houses in your neighborhood.
  • Know the type of blueprint you want. While some architectural plans include everything from design, construction, plumbing, electricity, and elevation, others focus on general floor plans.

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Categories: Architecture and Design Occupations