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Researching a Contemporary Building

Researching a Contemporary Building

Researching a Contemporary Building or Architect

Getting Started

  • The Great Buildings Collection, Dezeen and ArchDaily are good resources for the basics on buildings and architectural practices (e.g. architect/firm, location, year built). You can also check our online and print architectural atlas.  For buildings in Toronto try the TOBuilt website.  You will need this basic information on your building to start your research.

Articles and Books

Start with the GBC Library's journal and book collection.  The library has newspapers, magazines, and journals with information on Canadian and international buildings.  We also have an extensive book collection which may feature books on your architect/firm or your building.


Tip: These are especially helpful for finding information (including drawings) on contemporary buildings.

EXAMPLE:  Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (HEART) -  Steven Holl

Herning Art SHA 3815.jpg

Photo: Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (HEART) (2013) By Iwan Baan - - CC BY-SA 3.0 - Wikimedia Commons

Try searching on all aspects of the building, including:

  • The current and former name(s) of the building  (e.g. Herning Museum of Contemporary Art OR HEART museum)
  • Combine the architect and building name for more targeted searching: 
    • Steven Holl AND (Herning Museum of Contemporary Art OR HEART)
  • The location of the building (e.g., Herning AND Steven Holl)
  • The architect or firm that did restoration work on the building
  • The architect's/firm's name to research additional projects or biographical information (e.g. Steven Holl)

Library Learning Commons Homepage





El Croquis journal collection

Search the El Croquis Journal collection for a contemporary building or an architect/practice.  Each issue is dedicated to an architect or practice. The journal provides biographical information on the architect or practice, interviews with the architect(s), and profiles of major projects.  You can browse the collection or search for a specific building within the collection in the main database (see sample search below).

sample search in el croquis journal as source and heart museum and steven holl

  • Note the Issue number and page numbers before going to the publisher's site via the Get It (Full Text Finder) link.

sample article from El Croquis highlighting the Issue Number and page numbers and the Get It Full Text Finder link

Canadian Buildings

EXAMPLE:  Muskoka Boathouse - Shim Sutcliffe

Muskoka BoathouseMuskoka Boathouse

Images:  Muskoka Boathouse by Shim Sutcliffe.  Retrieved from LUNA;JSESSIONID=dc369097-3b55-4c5d-8920-e584cb0e3fd8?search=SUBMIT&cat=0&q=muskoka+boathouse&dateRangeStart=&dateRangeEnd=&QuickSearchA=QuickSearchA

For Canadian buildings, after you have searched in our main database (see above), be sure to also search our databases that have a Canadian focus using Canadian Sources +  to search the databases listed below.

  • CBCA Complete (Canadian Business and Current Affairs)
    • It contains Canadian history and architecture journals.
  • Canadian Major Dailies
    • Newspapers from across Canada
  • Use the same search strategy you used in the main database:
    • The current and former name(s) of the building  (e.g. Muskoka Boathouse OR Point William Boathouse)
    • Combine the architect and building name for more targeted searching: 
      • Shim Sutcliffe AND (Muskoka Boathouse OR Point William Boathouse)
    • The location of the building and the architect (e.g., Muskoka AND Shim Sutcliffe)
    • The architect's/firm's name to research additional projects or biographical information (e.g. Shim Sutcliffe)

Books and Videos: 

Tip: Books and videos can be especially helpful for older buildings where journal coverage in our collection may not be available.

EXAMPLE: Seagram Building - Mies van der Rohe

Seagram's Building in New York City was built in 1958

Seagram's Building in New York City was built in 1958. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 14 Sep 2022.

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

  • architect's/architectural firm's name (e.g. Mies van der Rohe)
  • building name (e.g. Seagram Building)
  • type of architecture (e.g. skyscraper AND architecture)
  • location of the building (New York City AND architecture)
  • era of building (e.g. midcentury-modern architecture)
  • Limit your search to books or videos

Biographical Information for Architects

Beyond Our Collection - E-books and Journals

  • Search the architect's/firm's website.  Does the building have a website? Look for awards or references to articles and books.

Internet Archive LogoInternet Archive

Architecture Magazine Library (from

  •  Free access to USModernist's digital collection of major US 20th-century architecture magazines. (e.g. The Seagram Building from Architectural Record, July, 1958)

TPL: Toronto Public Library

  • 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.  They also offer access to a number of online journals through Flipster, Press Reader and Overdrive. The JSTOR  database may have journal articles for older buildings.

RIBA: Royal Institute of British Architects Library

  • 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.

Google Books

Screen shot of a Google Book search on the Wesley Building Burke 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 have the book in our collection.  You can also search the Internet Archives for an e-book copy.  


Architectural Atlases