Architectural Records: Managing Design and Construction Records

Certificate Eligibility: 
10 ARC, 1.5 CEU
2 days
Max Attendees: 
Tactical & Strategic

Architectural design and construction records are valuable sources for understanding and preserving the built environment. Because they document a complicated work process, these records are typically oversize and produced in great volume with fragile materials and fugitive media. Implementing the basic archival functions of appraisal, arrangement, description, preservation and reference can present a formidable task.


In this two-day course, you’ll learn how to identify, manage, preserve, and provide access to design and construction records. The first day addresses the process of design, legal issues, appraisal, types of records, arrangement, and description; the second day focuses on media and support identification, preservation, reformatting, reference, and patron use. Taking into consideration the access needs of different types of repositories, as well as the reality of limited space and budgets, you’ll learn ideal practices as well as practical solutions.

Learning Outcomes: 
Understand the process of design and how it impacts processing this material
Understand the special legal issues that design records create
Identify types of records and their unique content
Develop methodologies for appraisal, arrangement, and description that are appropriate for different repositories
Identify specific media and supports
Recognize common types of deterioration and the actions needed for holdings maintenance or referral to professional conservators
Select storage and housing methods appropriate for their institution and budget
Make informed decisions about reformatting design and construction records for access and preservation
Address specialized handling, reproduction, and use needs when providing reference and access for this material
Who Should Attend?: 

Archivists, town clerks, curators, librarians, and others who are responsible for architectural and other design and construction records in archives, municipal and government agencies, museums, libraries, and historical societies

What You Should Already Know: 

Participants should be familiar with archival practice in the areas of arrangement/description, preservation, and reference. Some understanding of architectural/design records and drawings, including born-digital records, would be useful.

A&D Core Competency: 
1. Arrangement: Understand the process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order to protect their context and facilitate access.
2. Description: Analyze and describe details about the attributes of a record or collection of records to facilitate identification, management, and understanding of the work.
3. Descriptive Standards: Apply rules and practices that codify the content of information used to represent archival materials in discovery tools according to published structural guidelines.
4. Management: Demonstrate ability to manage physical and intellectual control over archival materials.
"The section on types of architectural records and the examples shown will help me identify material in accessions and collections and potential preservation problems."
"IDing materials, housing, copyright/legal. Fact that it was two days—enough time to cover info without cramming."
"Everything was incredibly helpful—primarily the organization of architectural archives, preservation, appraisal—will directly relate to what I am doing." — Jennifer Parker
"The reference chart for types of architectural drawings—clear/handy/useful reference that we can all take with us—thank you!"
"Identifying media types, standard series for finding aid, conservation/preservation/handling storage." — Laura Bykowski
"The different media types and their unique and respective preservation and storage issues. Also as a government employee, it was very interesting and beneficial to get the private sector archive perspective (and university archives). Discussions and group setting was very effective in conveying the major issues in architectural archives. Visual aids were effective in enhancing what was presented in the lectures." — Matt Kasprzak
Co-Sponsor Provides: 
  • Classroom: 6-foot tables with two chairs each or 8-foot tables with three chairs each
  • Two large tables for architectural drawings
  • Lectern with attached microphone to the left of the screen
  • Pitcher of water with two glasses for the instructor
  • Instructor workstation (a PC or laptop that has a USB port, runs standard MS Office software, and has PowerPoint)
  • LCD projector, computer cords, and replacement bulb for the LCD projector
  • Projection screen
  • Coffee/tea/water for morning break
  • Water/assorted soft drinks for afternoon break