The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects

Wiki Pages: Searching for Plans

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The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects
Searching for Plans
There is no central place where building plans are collected and stored. Plans are typically held by the architect's office, the building owner, and submitted to the local building authorities for approval.
Check to see if the architect is still in practice anywhere (see Contacting an Architect). If not, was there a partner who might have continued the practice? If the architect had a biographical entry in the 1956, 1962, or 1970 edition of American Architects Directory (available on this site), get the firm name from that entry and check under the firm name to see if other partners are listed. Then see if they are still in practice.
A good resource is a local history collection at a library, musem, or historical society in the area where the architect's office was located. Local history collection staff may be able to help you determine whether there was a successor firm with a different name, through city directories and newspaper articles.
Unless there is a surviving partner or successor firm, an architect’s office records and plans may be discarded when the office closes. Obituaries may provide a clue to a successor firm, or help you locate the family to ask what happened to the office records.
Ask the local history collection staff whether plans are saved by government agencies such as building permit offices. Policies for how much and how long to save building plans vary widely from one city to the next.
Architectural archives collect the drawings and office records of notable architects in their geographic region. Here is a partial list of Architectural Archives.

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