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History of Architecture: Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

This is a brief bibliographic guide to general resources for researching architectural history in the Environmental Design Library, UC Berkeley

Online Resources

Consult the lists of Dictionaries, Thesauri and Quotations and Encyclopedias and Almanacs for more resources. 


The dictionaries below will be helpful in architectural history research. For a more general selection of architecture dictionaries, be sure to consult the Dictionaries and Foreign Language Dictionaries sections of our web guide Architecture Resources.


For additional resources, consult the Encyclopedias section of Architecture Resources.

  • Calendar of creative man, John Paxton and Sheila Fairfield. London: Macmillan, 1980. Timeline from prehistory to 1970 with focus on 3-dimensional arts. Notes by date events and major works in each discipline.
  • Companion to contemporary architectural thought, ed. by Ben Farmer and Hentie Louw. London: New York Routledge, 1993. Not really an encyclopedia, but a wonderful "snyoptic collaborative work" that brings together a series of essays written by an international assortment of architects and historians. Introduces the reader to the essential qualities of architecture as revealed through history, and provide an "appreciation of the general state of the architectural world as it appears at the close of the 20th century." Includes bibliographies.
  • A dictionary of architecture and building; biographical, historical, and descriptive, by Russell Sturgis .. New York, The Macmillan company; London, Macmillan & co., ltd., 1901–1902. Historically important.
  • An encyclopaedia of architecture, historical, theoretical, & practical. London, New York [etc.] Longmans, Green, 1899.
  • Enciclopedia de arquitectura Plazola. Alfredo Plazola Cisneros;coautores, Alfredo Plazola Anguiano y Guillermo Plazola Anguiano. Estado de Mexico: Plazola Editores, 1994–present. 10  vols. Spanish language encyclopedia with Mexican and Latin American emphasis.
  • Encyclopedia of architectural technology, ed. by Pedro Guedes. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979. Architectural styles, building types, building techniques through the ages, including the present.
  • Encyclopedia of building technology, ed. by Henry J. Cowan. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988. 210 brief articles written by experts in the field of building technology, each with bibliographic references.
  • Encyclopedia of 20th century architecture, R. Stephen Sennott, ed. NY: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004. 3 vols.
  • Encyclopedia of vernacular architecture of the world, ed. by Paul Oliver. Cambridge, U.K.; New York:Cambridge University Press, 1997. 3 vols. Comprehensive encyclopedia with articles by experts in their fields. Vol. 1, theories and principles; Vols. 2–3, cultures and habitats, geographically. Complex hierarchical and alphabetical organizational structure—be sure to read the explanation on how to use. Includes cross-references, glossary, comparative lexikon of terms in 6 languages, bibliography, index of cultures, habitats, nations and locations, and general index.
  • Encyclopedie de l'architecture et de la construction. Paul Amedee Planat. Paris, Dujardin et cie [1888–1892] 6 vols. plus index. French language, historically important.
  • Encyclopedia of world art. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959-1983. 15 volumes. Good coverage of architecture and planning history and excellent plates and bibliographies. Vol. 15 is index to set.
  • Encyclopedia of world architecture, by Henri Stierlin. 2nd ed. London: MacMillan, 1979. Concise, but good plans and indexes by location and name. 2 vols.
  • A history of architecture. Russell Sturgis. New York: The Baker & Taylor Company, 1906–1915.
  • MacMillan encyclopedia of architects. Editor-in-chief, Adolf K. Placzek. New York: Free Press; London: Collier MacMillan, 1982. Index by name of building and architect name in vol. 4.
  • The Wilson chronology of the arts, by George Ochoa and Melinda Corey. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1998.