Visual Resources Collection

The Elizabeth D. Alley Visual Resources Collection (VRC), named for the curator who founded the collection in 1967, is a part of the Architecture Library. The VRC consists of slides and digital images documenting architecture and the urban scene from pre-historic times to the present. Related topics include urban design, historic preservation, real estate development, art, landscape architecture, as well as events around the School. Other visual materials include over 100 DVDs and videotapes, along with lantern slides and photographs. Images are acquired through site photography, scanning materials, commercial vendors, and donations from faculty and students.


The School's faculty and students are encouraged to use the current slides as a starting point for research. We are happy to scan items that are not yet in the digital realm. Images and other materials may be used for presentations in School classes and for research.


Copyright: All materials in the VRC are subject to copyright restrictions. Images in the VRC are used for educational purposes only.


Equipment: LCD projectors, digital cameras, video cameras and model photography equipment are available to students and faculty for use in class and for research and project site documentation.


ROOM: ARC 1102, Architecture Library

PHONE: 301-405-6321

FAX: 301-314-9583


  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM



Cynthia Frank

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Image Order Form (imageorderform.pdf)
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How to Use Flat Screen TV (HowToUseFlatScreenTV.pdf)
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Faculty reserve videos on ELMS (FacultyReserveVideosonELMS.pdf)
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Prezi Helpful Hints (Prezi_Helpful_Hints.pdf)


The Visual Resources Collection (VRC) is a reserve collection available to faculty and students in School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation programs including Architecture, Urban Studies and Planning, Historic Preservation, Smart Growth and Real Estate Development. Students taking classes and giving presentations in these programs have access to materials in the VRC. Curators make exceptions for outside faculty and students on a case-by-case basis.



Faculty and students may use digitized collection slides in classes for lectures and presentations, and some images may already exist in a digital format. To have slides scanned for class, please select the slides and give them to the curators at least two weeks in advance of the lecture. Digital images are available for users as requested. Users may load images on to a flash drive, CD or DVD. In the case of copyrighted images, there will be restrictions on use.



The VRC has a collection of more than 100 videos and DVDs available for use by faculty and students. Videos/DVDs are also available through Library Media Services located in Hornbake Library. Videos/DVDs may be live-streamed in class, signed-out and borrowed overnight, or put on reserve. The collection is arranged alphabetically and a list of titles with short descriptions is available for viewing. 



Slides are expected to remain on reserve in the VRC when not in active use for lectures and presentations. Slides often have book sources on them, which can be used to locate a book in the library.


The VRC acquires visual materials that support the needs and goals of the School's programs: Architecture, Urban Planning, Historic Preservation, Smart Growth and Real Estate Development. Curators select new materials with input from faculty and students in response to ever-changing theories about the built environment. There are always new buildings going up, planning theories being put into practice, and new preservation projects to document.  When new courses are added to the curriculum, additions are made in those subject areas.  Sources for images and DVD/videos include commercial vendors, faculty donations from travel and research, and requests for copy work.


Over the years, the VRC has been the beneficiary of a number of important historic collections. When receiving such gifts, the aim is to incorporate as many of the images as possible into the existing classification scheme. Gifts to the VRC include the following works:


  • DVD Library 
  • Slides, photographs, notes and drawings from noted preservation architects Orin M. Bullock, Jr. and H. Chandlee Forman and Baltimore architect Alexander S. Cochran;
  • Photographs and early 1900s book plates from Otto Gaertner, donated by his daughter, historian Elizabeth Stites
  • Images donated by professors who have traveled the world. Holdings include the following topics:
    • Prehistoric, primitive and ancient sites
    • Archaeological sites including ancient Mayan locations in South and Central America; Pre-Columbian; Pompeii; Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom in Cambodia; Native American Indian sites in the United States; and temples in China, Japan and India
    • Underwater archaeology
    • Vernacular architecture from around the world
    • Historic and modern images from Asia, Africa and Europe
    • Rock-cut churches from Africa and India
    • Modern Scandinavian architecture
    • Italian Renaissance architecture
    • Sites in Spain, including the Alhambra, Catalan architecture and works by Antonio Gaudi
    • An array of U.S. sites from coast to coast, including California Mission style and 20th-century architecture, southern plantations, Washington, D.C., embassies, federal buildings and monuments, and a range of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings
    • World’s Expositions and Fairs
    • New Urbanist communities such as Seaside and Celebration, Florida, and Kentlands and King Farm in Maryland
    • Historic sites such as Cape May, New Jersey and Kiplin Hall, England
    • Aerial photography of land uses from commercial centers to rural landscapes
    • Unbuilt projects
    • Substantial architectural typography from “A” (abandoned buildings) to “Z” (ziggurats)
    • Architectural drawing


 The VRC has a variety of equipment available for use by faculty and students in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Some equipment may be borrowed overnight or on weekends. Reservations should be made in advance by contacting a VRC Curator or visiting the VRC to sign out any equipment you wish to reserve.

These items are available for use:

  • Portable LCD Projectors
  • TV & Mac Mini setups (can also connect to personal laptop
  • Cameras
  1. Panasonic Lumix ZS8 (14mpx),
  2. Nikon Coolpix L120 (14mpx),
  • Video Cameras
  1. Flip video
  2. Canon VIXIA HV40 (3.1mpx)
  3. Canon VIXIA HFM40
  • Light Sets - includes lights and black cloths
  • Portable projection screen
  • Tripods



AUDIO-VISUAL EQUIPMENT for School class use is provided by the VRC. A sign-out binder for all equipment is located in the VRC.


CAMERAS, LIGHTS, AND TRIPODS are available for student documentation photography. Whenever possible, reserve them ahead of time.


PROJECTORS are available for overnight or weekend loan.


School faculty and students have access to a wide range of audiovisual equipment and images for class presentations. Please be aware of the following guidelines:


  • Preparations for presentations should be made two weeks in advance. You can reserve audiovisual equipment using the sign-up sheets posted in the VRC.
  • Faculty and students may use digitized collection slides in classes for lectures and presentations. Some images may already exist in a digital format. To have slides scanned for class, please select the slides and give them to a curator at least two weeks in advance of the lecture.
  • If, after searching the collection, you find that you need additional images for your presentation, you may have digital files made from books and/or periodicals. These images become part of the collection, available for your classroom use, at no charge. Note: Two full weeks are needed to process image orders.
  • All slides must be left on reserve in the VRC until the hour of presentation. There are no overnight loans of slides or trays.
  • Any special permissions must be discussed with a curator (student assistants are not authorized to grant special permissions).

Model Photography

First, the Camera:
There are several settings you need to check and/or change. The automatic settings on the camera will assume you are shooting in daylight, which is much brighter than our tungsten and halogen lights.

  •  Select the White Balance: Set to the “Incandescent” or light bulb symbol for use with the lending lights.
  •  Choose the highest resolution or “Image Quality” that the camera has. Usually, select “Fine JPEG” which means the file will have the least compression when closed—not as small for storage, but best for print quality. Compression in JPEG files means pixels are discarded every time you alter the image and re-save and close it.
  •  Set ISO/ASA sensitivity to 200. Higher ISO/ASA’s allow you to hand hold the camera in lower light, but trade off is “noise” or what we used to call “grain” in high ISO/ASA films.
  •  Turn off the automatic flash.
  •  Always use a tripod.
  •  Turn off the overhead florescent room lights.

Second, the lights and tripod set-up:
For white and light colored models, pin up a black cloth and let it hang down and drape over a table. Sit your model on top of the table.

  • Use two light sources, one pointed directly at the model, and one pointed away, bouncing light off an umbrella. See page 2 in the PDF link below. 
  •  The camera should be on a tripod, centered between the two light sources. 
  •  For our halogen lights, turn on Lamp #2 on the direct light and turn on both lamps in the indirect light (with umbrella).


DO NOT use more than one main light, or you will cast multiple shadows! Be sure that the main light comes from only one direction and that there is only ONE set of shadows. Multiple shadows from different directions are confusing and look amateurish!


If a bulb burns out, come find get a new one from the VRC. Do not touch the bulb with your bare hands. It is very hot and oil from your skin may cause the bulb to break.

Digital Image Websites

Architecture Databases

Archinform is one of the largest online databases for international architecture. Includes images of over 18,000 built and unrealized projects from various architects and planners:

Archseek contains images from a growing number of countries:

ARTstor can also be accessed through the University’s Libraries homepage, under databases. You can set-up an account by following the prompts. An account allows great abilities to download images, as well as export images to Powerpoint. ARTstor is also the image database of the Architecture Visual Resources Library at the University of California, Berkeley is the world's largest free-to-use website about buildings:

Great Buildings Collection, a large online database of designers and structures of all kinds, includes 3D models, photographic images and architectural drawings, commentaries, bibliographies, and web links:

The New York Public Library Digital Gallery (NYPL) provides access to over 600,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of the NYPL; includes coverage of architecture, cityscapes, infrastructure, monuments, and town life:

Structurae is an online database offering images and information on works of structural engineering around the world; all periods of history are covered:

Vitruvio is a web resource guide to architecture that includes links to major sites: (website in Italian)


Architecture Image Websites

Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania preserves the works of more than 400 designers from the 18th century to the present:

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Art and Architecture website has more than 40,000 images and a network of over half a million links:

Art Images from College Teaching (AICT) is a personal, non-profit project of its author, art historian and visual resources curator Allan T. Kohl; all images displayed on this site have been photographed on location by the author:

ArtServe is a database from the Australian National University featuring art and architecture from the Mediterranean Basin, Japan and India:

Bluffton University has a Digital Imaging Project by Mary Ann Sullivan that includes more than 16,000 art historical images of sculpture and architecture from pre-historic to post-modern:

David Rumsey Visual Collections: Over 300,000 images from a wide variety of Museums, Universities and private collections:

Catena Digital Archive of Historic Gardens + Landscapes, a digital archive of historic gardens and landscapes, and contemporary images, including plans, engravings, and photographs:

Decorative Arts & Design of the 20th Century is an online database of 20th Century design

Digital Archive of American Architecture is an online image database from Boston College, which contains 1400 images of American architecture:

Digital Archive of European Architecture is primarily used for students at Boston College, but owner will consider use by others:

Earthquake Engineering Online Archive includes the William Godden Structural Engineering Slide Library, the Karl Steinbrugge Image Collection, and the Jan Kozak Collection of Historical Earthquakes from the Earthquake Engineering Research Center at the University of California Berkeley:

Emergence of Advertising in America is a database of over 9,000 advertising items and publications dating from 1850 to 1920, illustrating the rise of consumer culture and the birth of a professionalized advertising industry in the United States:

Housing Prototypes is dedicated to the study of international multi-family housing and is published free on the Internet as an information service:

Library of Congress American Memory Project contains primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections:

National Trust Library Historic Postcard Collection Portraying locations across the United States, the collection offers perspectives into the society which produced these cards and reveals important insights about cultural attitudes of the time. These postcards also provide unique evidence of the evolution in American architecture, with rare glimpses of buildings or places that may no longer exist or have dramatically altered over time. Currently consists of approximately 2,500 images, but postcards are added daily.

Perseus Digital Library, also known as the Perseus Hopper, is the digital library for Tufts University:

Sacred Destinations is an ecumenical guide to more than 1,250 sacred sites, holy places, pilgrimage destinations, religious buildings, and sacred artworks in 61 countries around the world:

Society of Architectural Historians Image Exchange, a collection of digitized slides of buildings contributed by SAH members for non-profit educational use, includes a world survey set and an American survey set.

University of Washington Libraries Cities and Buildings Database is a collection of digitized images of buildings and cities drawn from multiple periods and locations:

VADS, the online resource for visual arts, has images available for educational use. See terms of agreement here: and images here:

World Art Kiosk is an internationally recognized database that provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It contains nearly 70,000 images, is global in coverage, and includes all areas of visual imagery. WorldImages is accessible anywhere and images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes:


Project Sites

Amiens Cathedral Project: Multimedia guide to the cathedral, Columbia University:

Architecture of the Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA, is an in-depth site from Reed College that contains over 800 photographs of The Getty Center intended for supplementing what has been available in publications:

Chartres Cathedral of Notre-Dame provides access to a comprehensive collection of images and detailed descriptions of the cathedral from the Digital Research Library at the University of Pittsburgh's University Library System:

Farnsworth House website is a project by the Columbia Architecture School's Building Technologies Group:

Historic Buildings In The World Trade Center Vicinity contains images, history, and information about their current status from

PatCenter by Richard Rogers / Ove Arup and Partner Project by the Columbia Architecture School's Building Technologies Group:

Vezelay Benedictine Abby Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is one of the most important surviving monuments of architecture and sculpture of the Romanesque period:



Maryland Map Collection: The Maryland Map Collection is a comprehensive collection of more than 2,500 map titles depicting Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay, and the surrounding region. Selected maps have been digitized for this web database, and we are adding more on a regular basis.

David Rumsey Map Collection:

Images of Early Maps on the Web:

National Map:

National Geophysical Data Center:

National Parks Maps:

New Jersey Department of Transportation Maps:

New Jersey Geological Survey Geodata:

Oddens Bookmarks:

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection:


Region/Period Specific

Archined contains images and information about contemporary architecture in the Netherlands:

Art Nouveau World Wide is a web site dedicated to the Art Nouveau period, includes material on Berlage, Galle, Gaudi, Guimard, Hoffman, Mackintosh, and Sauvage:

California Heritage Collection is an online archive of more than 30,000 images illustrating California's history and culture, from the collections of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley:

Chicago Architects Oral History Project contains information from the Art Institute's Department of Architecture; includes transcripts from interviews and some images:

Chicago Imagebase is an online database containing a wide variety of images and other data aimed at enhancing knowledge about the built environment of the Chicago region:

Irresistible Decay: Ruins Reclaimed is a site focusing on the special collections of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute, which examines images of ruins as both symbols of decay and emblems of continuity over time:

The Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative website contains information and images from institutions across the state:

Nineteenth Century Views of Manhattan is the New York Public Library's online exhibition Moving Uptown: Nineteenth-Century Views of Manhattan:

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings is a database of architectural and historical information and images for 35,000+ structures, mostly in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, including all those on the Philadelphia Historical Commission list of significant buildings, and the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission's inventory of historic structures:

Team 10 online:


Museums and Archives

Library of Congress Digital Collections has a number of digital collections and services:

Canadian Centre for Architecture:

German Architecture Museum:

Guggenheim Museum:

Museum of Modern Art:

Museum of the City of New York:

National Building Museum:

Netherlands Architecture Institute:

Skyscraper Museum:

Smithsonian Institution:

Vitra Design Museum:


Portals-Links to many other sites

CUPOLA offers galleries of cupolas, historic architecture, art, and picturesque landscapes. Also cupola Q&A pages, state capitol building histories, wordplay, AutoCAD software resources, & killer HotLinks. Main site:

Cupola's Hot Links:

Solo Architectura: in Spanish)

Theatre History on the Web:



Ad*Access Project is an online database containing over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955:


Website covers topics on emerging technologies, green building, energy efficient interior design, emerging sources of renewable energy and sustainable product design
Links to public services initiatives, science and innovation, news, blogs, maps and data concerning the following topics: tax credits, heating and cooling, solar energy, home weatherization, appliances and electronics.
Examples of energy efficient homes, buildings, cars and diagrams of solar energy, wind energy, water conservation and various fuels.
Has links to articles from 1995...The library of products is good though.
Good information regarding green energy detailing, including a series of home and business products. 
Green Design link to Building Materials and Systems for design topics like recycling, sustainable carpets, building location, indoor heating and cooling, water use, lighting.
The US Green building Council has access to LEED certification information, as well as access to the Center for Green Schools, Education resources, and the blog.
Website includes recent articles on Smart Growth available, as well as funding opportunities and smart growth events.
Resource containing weatherization information for homeowners and professionals, including online training videos and tutorials.
Blog with articles that deal with economics of sustainability.
Detailed architectural drawings, diagrams and product guides for appliances and home goods. Video section also features tutorials on green building design and construction.
This website discusses home construction based on green technology principles.
This website is published by a law office, and deals with trends, codes and regulations, and legal developments.
Information available on the website regarding specific companies and their green building activities. Also, online advising for finance, insurance and litigation available.
Blog type website that offers up to date posting of energy related content.
Information provided regarding LEED credits, as well as a discussion forum area, and green building news articles.
Personal blog relating to energy models leading to a sustainable future.
Forums, tech links, and achieved topics relating to building intervention strategies.
List of Homes in the US that consist of passive design strategies.
Advocacy website consisting of content relating to design, building, products, materials and workshops
Architect Laurie Baker’s personal website that contains completed project photos and blurbs.