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Precedent Research Guide

Getting started with precedent research

For Your Precedent Projects You Will Need:

  • Images of site plans, elevations, and sections

  • Information including architecture firms, dates, locations, etc.

Some of these things can be found in the same resource, but you may also have to look in a few different places. Be persistent! Your first search may not bring good results, refine your search terms, change where you’re searching (databases, physical books etc), and remember- you can always contact a librarian!

Step 1: Preliminary Research

Gather information about your building: Architect/Firm; Title/Address; Location; Year Built; Style

Using ArchDaily or Wikipedia is fine for preliminary research and can help you discover information about alternative spellings, language/translation differences, and help you refine your search terms.


Step 2: Search Terms

Using the information you found in preliminary research, use key pieces of information to create a search terms and phrases.

  • Kimbell Art Museum AND Kahn
  • Louis Kahn AND Texas
  • Kimbell Art Museum AND Fort Worth
  • "Kimbell Art Museum" (using quotations around the search phrase helps you find more accurate results)

If you are having a hard time finding results with one set of search terms or phrases, change up your search terms or find more specific information for better terms. 


Step 3: Databases

Use your terms and phrases on the database homepage to search many architecture journals for the information you'll need for your precedent project.

Check the tabs to on the lefthand side for a guide to using Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, the go-to database for this project. 


Step 4: Library Materials

For older buildings, searching the physical library collection can yield good results. Use your search terms in the OneSearch bar on the library homepage. You can filter results by library, material (books, ebooks, etc), and images. 

Check the tab on the lefthand side for a guide on using OneSearch.


Step 5: Citations

You will need to provide citations for your project, to give credit to the author and journal for their content and so that you could find that information again. Check our citations guide for walkthroughs on correct citations.