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Syracuse University Libraries

Architecture: Architectural Working Drawings

Books and other resources added to the Syracuse University Library collections

Digitization Project

Syracuse University Libraries in association with the School of Architecture has embarked on an in-house project to digitize the architectural working drawings collection. As part of the King + King Architecture Library renovation, most of the working drawings were transferred and are now being stored off site. Retrieval is subject to availability. Once the digitization project is complete, a database of materials will be created and the drawings permanently stored off site. A small collection of core and course-related drawing sets will continue to be housed in the King + King Architecture Library. 


With digitization underway, we are currently in the process of inventorying, updating and reorganizing our working drawings. The documents below as well as the library catalog may not yet reflect the current call numbers and locations of all of our drawings.

Thank you for your understanding.

List of Print Resources to Supplement Working Drawings

To be updated-- list is not yet complete or up to date.


Collection Overview

Type of collection

Architectural records are tools which document a building from the conceptual to the built work. The collection being described here is one of construction documents, not design documents. These construction documents are commonly known as working drawings and are an important source of information on how  the specific building performs, documenting the relationship between its design, technology or working systems (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; electrical design or structural components). Some specifications have been collected.



The architectural working drawings collection, housed in the King + King Architecture Library was started over 30 years ago in direct support of the Advanced Building Systems class. As early as 1978, the term project for ARC 423 centered on comparisons between buildings of the same type. Initially, students did their research using library resources like books and periodical articles on the architect and/or specific building.

Students began making site visits, trying to obtain access to the working drawings for study and review. A proposal was made to the Libraries to begin buying this type of material. The analogy was made that the architectural working drawing is to the architect as the score is to the musician. At the time that the Syracuse University Libraries agreed to this type of purchase request, a number of schools of architecture were drawing upon this type of material for study purposes as well. The major difference was that Syracuse University was actively working to develop a core collection of drawings of important contemporary works as opposed to faculty bringing in sets of drawings of projects in which they were involved as was happening in many other schools. Other schools, as well, often drew upon donations of drawings of local projects.


Scope of Collection

There are currently over 350 cataloged sets of working drawings, from 2 pages to over 500 sheets. Microfilm holdings are, for the most part, limited to materials acquired from the Louis I. Kahn Collection at the Architectural Archive of the University of Pennsylvania. A limited number of working drawings exist in digital format. Most of the drawing sets represent built works in the United States. The majority of the drawing sets are of cultural and educational buildings, with museums and college and university buildings predominating. Because of their pedagogical use, every effort has been made to acquire as complete a set of drawings as possible. Emphasis is placed upon the acquisition of architectural and heating, ventilating and air conditioning drawings.



The Syracuse University Libraries are responsible for acquiring additional working drawing sets for the collection. Requests for materials are submitted by members of the School of Architecture faculty to the architecture librarian.



Holdings of the working drawings collection can be accessed through the classic catalog or SUMMON. Patrons are able to search the catalog for specific projects, detailed holdings and availability. The catalog record lists the architect or architectural firm as the primary access point; with the name of the building or project serving as the title. Subject tracings and keyword searching enable the library user to determine building type holdings.



A project was recently initiated to digitize the working drawings collection. Most materials are stored off site and may be requested by completing the retrieval form. Core and currently reserved drawing sets are housed in the King + King Architecture Library, Slocum Hall.  Access is available during all regular library hours.



The prints of the architectural working drawings in the King + King Architecture Library are housed in one of two ways. Most drawing sets are stored in flat files in consecutive number order. These sets are labeled with the description: drawings, flat and a four digit number. When processed, the specific drawing set is arranged in order following the construction document schedule or a logical pattern.


Physical description

The working drawings in this collection are "prints" or copies, made using various photo-reproductive processes. The average size is 24" x 36", but a number of "half-size" sets exist. Approximately three-quarters of the drawings are blue or black line diazo prints on an off-white or dirty background. There are several sets of mylar and vellum drawings as well as some blueprints.



Working drawing sets DO NOT CIRCULATE. An account has been set up with Syracuse Blueprint in order to quickly (usually within a couple of days) provide students with copies and/or scans of the drawings, at a given cost per sheet that the student must pay upon receipt of the material. Copy/scan order forms can be obtained from the staff at the King + King Architecture Library.



The size and bulk of the drawings and frequency of use creates significant re-filing problems. PLEASE make an honest effort when using the working drawings to keep them in order and re-file them neatly.

Classic Catalog Look-up

Architectural working drawings are listed on Classic Catalog. To retrieve a complete list of architectural working drawing sets, use the heading search, select title and type the phrase working drawings. This will retrieve a list of working drawings arranged alphabetically by building name.

The Classic Catalog record lists the architect or architectural firm as the author and the name of the building as the title.  Subject headings include building types. Drawings, flat or Drawings, rolled followed by a number gives the call number of the drawing set. Classic Catalog records include the number and types of drawings.

Example 1: Retrieving a list of working drawings in title order.

Example 2: Retrieving a list of working drawings by architect or building name. i.e. Fallingwater

Example 3: Advanced search: combining author and title.