Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Building Research: Contemporary, Green and Historic Buildings

Researching Contemporary Buildings (including drawings)

The Great Buildings Collection and ArchDaily are good resources for international buildings.  For Toronto buildings, try the TOBuilt website.

We have a number of architectural atlases and anthologies which contain basic information on your building and can be a good starting point for your research.  Search the box below on the architect or firm, the building name, the geographic location (e.g. Canada and architecture, Toronto and architecture) or the type of buildings (e.g. church and architecture).  

TIP:  Our Key Buildings series comes with a CD-ROM with dwg files on each building (only available on campus).



Articles from architectural journals and magazines are one of the best sources of information on contemporary buildings. These articles often have drawings, photos, information on materials used, and design and construction techniques. Search the George Brown Library in the box below on the building or project name and/or the architect's name. 

Find books, articles, and more...  


Databases A-Z    |   Journals by Title    |  Advanced Search


We may have a book that covers your building.  Search the box above on architect/firm (e.g. Norman Foster or KPMB), or building name, architectural period, geography (e.g. architecture and Toronto), or type of building (architecture and church).

Search Art & Architecture Complete.  Be sure to uncheck the full-text box to find references to print journals.

If your building is in Canada be sure to search the CBCA Complete database for Canadian journals and newspapers that might feature your building.

Other online resources:

  • Search the Internet Archive for books, journal articles and videos on your building or architect.  You must create a free account to borrow e-books at Sign up for an account.

  • All George Brown College students are eligible to apply for a Toronto Public Library Card.  This allows you to use the TPL databases and to check out books.  The main Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor has an excellent architecture collection.  They have a number of print journals that pre-date our print collection and a large architecture book collection. 

  • Search the RIBA catalogue for references to your building that may not come up in your initial search. Some of these resources may be available in our collection.  Most of these books and journals can be found at the Toronto Public Library.

  • For Toronto buildings search TOBuilt and Archidont from the Toronto Public Library for references to buildings in Toronto. 
  • Use Google Books to search through the full-text of books for references to your building.  The book may not be available for viewing so check the Search Everything to see if we hold the book and if not, try the Toronto Public Library.

Blueprints and specifications for many buildings in Toronto may be housed at one of the following locations:

The library has newspapers, magazines, and journals with information on Toronto buildings.   You can also search our book collection.  There are a number of books on the reserve shelf on modern Toronto architecture.

Toronto Heritage Register

The Toronto Heritage Register allows you to search for basic information on a number of historic buildings in Toronto.  This basic information is found in the Heritage Property Detail record which can be searched either via the Heritage Register Search map or by using the Heritage ProCity of Toronto's heritage property search showing search for 299 Queen Streetperty Search tool









screen shot of the Heritage Property Detail record highlighting bylaw, easement, names, year built and architecture firm

The Heritage Property Detail record provides basic information on heritage buildings including:

  • the architect
  • year built
  • current and former name(s)
  • Heritage designation bylaw number
  • Heritage Easement Agreement number  

All of this information will be useful when searching for information on

Architectural Index for Ontario

Toronto Reference Library's Architectural Index for Ontario is another good resource for basic information about historic buildings in  Toronto.  You can browse the index by designer/architect, building name, building type or street. The entry provides basic information on the building as well as an index to articles about the building.

screen shot from Architectural Index for Ontario showing the property details for 299 Queen St. W including building, date built and architect







Each listing also provides references to current and historical books and articles on the building.






Blueprints and specifications for many buildings in Toronto may be housed at one of the following locations:

If the original blueprints are not available, one can often find copies of the drawings in historical articles written at the time the building was built.

Toronto Archives (255 Spadina Rd - just down the street from the Casa Loma campus):

Key Tips:

  • Bring photo ID on your first visit to sign up for a free Toronto Archive Researcher card.
  • It can take several hours to bring up records from storage so give yourself lots of time.
  • The archives are open on the weekend but you have to pre-order records on a weekday.
  • You can take non-flash photos of the blueprints and specification sheets

To search for blueprints, start at the Toronto Archives Advanced Search Page.

Screen Shot Toronto Archives Advanced Search page showing 299 Queen in the keyword field and 410 in the Forms part of field

  • Enter the building address, or name, or architect in the Keyword field






Records page for 299 Queen from Toronto Archives


If blueprints are available, you must create a Record Request Form to request the blueprints for the building.  If you need assistance, contact your librarian Andrea Hall or call the City of Toronto Archives at 416-397-0778.





blueprints from 299 Queen St. West


You can take non-flash pictures of blueprints and other records found at the archives.






Archives of Ontario (at York University subway stop - now only 35 minutes from Casa Loma!)

**Note: If you wish to view blueprints or records at the archives, they may need to be ordered 24-48 hours in advance. Speak to Archives reference desk staff for assistance (416-327-1600)**


Search the Archives of Ontario for drawings of many historic buildings in Toronto and Ontario.  Collections from several architects who worked in Toronto and Ontario are housed at the Ontario Archives including

  • Start with a simple keyword search.
  • If you do not find any records, try the Advanced Search option
  • The Reference Desk staff at the Archives of Ontario can also help. Call 416-327-1600 for assistance.

Articles and Books

Information about Toronto buildings can also be found in current articles and books.  You will use a specific search to find articles on a building and a general search to find books that feature a building.

Articles:  Try searching on all aspects of the building, including:

  • The current and former name(s) of the building
  • The architect or firm that designed the building
  • The architect or firm that did restoration work on the building

Start with our databases that have a Canadian focus.

Next, search the main search box below. This will allow you to simultaneously search a number of databases including  Art and Architecture Complete and CPI.Q.


Databases A-Z    |   Journals by Title    |  Advanced Search


Books:  Use the library's main search box (above) but keep your search more general.  Try:

  • architect's name (e.g. Peter Dickinson)
  • building name (e.g. Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
  • type of architecture (e.g.Toronto and high-rise and architecture)
  • Toronto and architecture

Screen shot of a Google Book search on the Wesley Building Burke Toronto


Google Books is another excellent way to find references to your building within books.  Try the name of your building and architect in the Google Search.   If the book is not available full-text, check the GBC Library catalogue or the Toronto Public Library catalogue for the book.











Make an appointment with Andrea Hall, your librarian, to help you get started on your research.

Architectural Atlases