Preservation of Architectural Records

Architectural records include a variety of material and physical types that must be individually assessed in terms of preservation needs.

Material types of records commonly found in architectural records collections are:

  • Original drawings - working drawings, colored renderings, structural drawings, sketchbooks, trace papers, and tracing cloth, also known as linens
  • Reproductions - blueprints, sepias, white lines, photographic, hectographic, photomechanical, plotter prints
  • Documentation - specifications, planning documents, office records, photographs, films, videos, oral histories, computer records
  • Three-dimensional objects - architectural models, plaster maquettes, awards, original office furniture, product samples

Physical types of materials degrade at different rates and through different processes based on chemical composition. Physical types typically represented in architectural records collections include:

  • Papers
  • Plastics
  • Wood
  • Photographic material
  • Adhesives
  • Art media
  • Magnetic and digital media

Factors to consider regarding preservation of architectural records include exposure to light, heat, and relative humidity, as well as the presence of biological agents, such as pests and mold. The goal is to maintain a stable environment suitable for the particular type of records in a collection.

For further information on preservation of architectural records:

Alexander Architectural Archive, Storage and Care of Architectural Records,

Glück, Eva, Irene Brückle, and Eva-Maria Barkhofen. Papier - Linie - Licht: Konservierung Von Architekturzeichnungen Und Lightpausen Aus Dem Hans-Scharoun-Archiv = Paper - Line - Light. Berlin: Akademie der Künste, 2012.

Hammill, Michele E. "Washingtoniana II: conservation of architectural drawings at the Library of Congress," Book and Paper Group Annual 12. Washington, DC: Book and Paper Group (BPG) of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 1993. (available at

Homburger, Hildegard, and Barbara Korbel. "Architectural Drawings on Transparent Paper: Modifications of Conservation Treatments." The Book and Paper Annual. (1999): 25-33.

International Council on Archives. A Guide to the Archival Care of Architectural Records: 19th-20th Centuries. Paris : ICA, 2000. (available at

Kissel, Eléonore and Erin Vigneau. Architectural photoreproductions: a manual for identification, 2nd Ed., New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2009.

Lowell, Waverly and Tawny Ryan Nelb. Architectural Records: Managing Design And Construction Records. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006.

Price, Lois Olcott. Line, Shade and Shadow: The Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press and the Winterthur Museum, 2015.