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Architecture Research Guide

Use this guide to find MSU Library resources and other helpful research tools in the field of Architecture.

ARCH 121 - Reading a Building Research Guide

Welcome to the library's guide on how to 'read' a building for ARCH 121.

For this assignment students need to find: 

  • at least two published articles in a professional or academic journal
  • at least two sources must include floor plans and possibly other drawings and/or photographs of the building

Also: For your two copies or scans of floor plans and/or images of your building, don't forget about the Library's scanning options!

Search Tips

  1. Search strategy: Start by searching your building's name within best bet databases like JSTOR. If you don't have any luck, expand your search to the other databases listed below!
  2. Not all digital articles contain floor plans. The books listed at the bottom of the page, as well as Building Types Online are great additional options for finding accurate floor plans of your building.
    • If an article shows up in your search results in a language you don't speak, still check for floor plans/drawings! Then you can find another article or book entry in your preferred language for explanatory information about the building to utilize in your assignment.
  3. Take a look at some Architecture Journals on the 4th floor of the Library.
    • Architecture - NA1.A326
    • Architectural Digest - NA730.C2 A7
    • Architectural Design - NA1.A563

Advanced Search Strategies

Don't be discouraged if you don't find something on your first try! Here are some advanced tips to make your search successful.

  • Less can be more! Instead of searching a long phrase like "Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano Illinois" use the keywords (words unique to your question that express the main idea) instead. Try something like "Farnsworth" AND "Rohe."
  • Try searching for the building's location AND the architect's name to narrow down results to your building.
  • Schedule an appointment with a librarian! We are here to help.


The reference collection has floor plans for many of the buildings in this assignment. These materials are located past the coffee shop, behind the consultation center and outside of study group room 1D.