How to do research in Architecture and Design

Library resources for researchers working on architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Broader subject - built environment, design, "city OR urban planning"
  • Narrower focus - sustainability, land development, site remediation, housing, urban renewal, transportation, floor plan
  • Names of designers, built and unbuilt works, historical periods or movements, or typology - Kenzo Tange, Lina Bo Bardi, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Boston city plan, Brutalism, Modernism, residential, school, office building, parks, gardens


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals (via HarvardKey) -- provides a comprehensive listing of journal articles published worldwide on architecture in the broadest sense, including design, archaeology, city planning, historic preservation, interior design, decorative art, landscape architecture, and urban planning.  It indexes back to 1930, with selective coverage back to the 1860's and includes a large number of architects' obituaries, a rich source of biographical information. Search tip: click on “choose databases” to select other potentially relevant databases, such as “Art Full Text,” “GreenFILE”, or “Urban Studies Abstracts.” 

Dig Deeper

The Architecture guide provides a helpful overview of library resources in support of research in architecture and building technology, including how to locate journals, site plans, images, and archival material, a list of organizations and directories of design firms, and recommended databases specific to architecture, design, and building technology.


Nicole Santiago, the library liaison to Architecture, is available to support researchers via one-on-one research consultation (primarily online).

Featured Collection

The Frances Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design offers general and special collections that include a wide range of formats supporting 20th and 21st century architecture, all aspects of landscape architecture including history of the practice, urban planning and design, and technological innovations in all areas, such as GIS and materials science.


How to do research in Art History and Visual Arts

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Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

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