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Research Guides

Historical Visual Materials Collections: Architectural Records

This guide lists a variety of research materials such as photographs, architectural plans, postcards, historical maps, artwork and ephemera.

About the Architectural Drawings Collection

The University of Washington's programs in architecture, urban design and planning, landscape architecture, and art history form the basis for the acquisition of all kinds of research materials relating to the development of the built environment of the Pacific Northwest. This has included not only architectural plans, drawings, and renderings, but also such resources as photographs, construction specifications, correspondence, books and pamphlets, advertising and promotion materials, and newspaper and periodical articles.

In 1963, Special Collections received its first major acquisition of architectural records, including 104 sheets of plans and drawings for the historic Pioneer Building, designed for Seattle pioneer Henry Yesler in 1889 by Elmer Fisher. The drawings were donated by Victor Steinbrueck, civic activist and professor of architecture, and architect and teacher Paul Hayden Kirk. In the years following that gift, the architectural drawings collection has increased to more than 250,000 items representing the works of more than 400 architects and architectural practices throughout the state.

Search for Architectural Drawings and Records

At this time, large portions of the architecture collections are unprocessed and may not be visible using our online tools. Please contact Special Collections at with inquiries.‚Äč

Architectural Drawings Database

This database contains descriptions of a portion of the architectural drawings held by Special Collections.


Finding aids for special collections materials are housed in a regional fining aid repository called ArchivesWest. When searching in ArchivesWest, be sure to limit your search by repository, "University of Washington Libraries Special Collections," or you will end up with results from universities and museums from all over the Pacific Northwest.

Due to the nature of the architectural drawings collections, you may find results that show up in the Architectural Drawings Database but not ArchivesWest, and vise-versa. 

Digital Collections

Requesting Architectural Drawings and Records

Because of their special handling requirements, architectural drawings are available to view by appointment only. Please request items in advance by submitting this online form.

Related Links and Guides

  • The Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD)
    This website provides a range of information on the buildings and architects of California, Oregon and Washington.

  • Building Styles. Descriptions of styles of buildings and links to representational photographs in the digital collections.

  • LibGuides by Alan Michelson, Head of UW Built Environments Library . These guides provides links to databases and published resources for architectural research.