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Cities and Buildings Database

The Cities and Buildings Database is a collection of digitized images of buildings and cities drawn from across time and throughout the world, available to students, researchers and educators on the web.

Begun in 1995, the collection was conceived as a multi-disciplinary resource for students, faculty, and others in the academic community. It has grown steadily since then, with contributions from a wide range of scholars, and contains images ranging from New York to Central Asia, from African villages, to the Parc de la Villette, and conceptual sketches and models of Frank Gehry's Experience Music Project. These have all been scanned from original slides or drawn from documents in the public domain. They are freely available to anyone with access to the Web for use in the classroom, student study, or for individual research purposes.

In 1999, with the help of the Digital Libraries Initiative Program and the Center for Information System Optimization, we adopted a new search engine. Researchers can now search for buildings by country, city, style, title, architect, date of construction, as well as other fields.

You are free to link to these pages, but we request that when you do you provide us with your URL; this will help us to track usage, and also justify our efforts to expand the resource.

All files on this site are copyright controlled as indicated. Copying, printing, or distributing any of them without the permission of the copyright holder is expressly prohibited. You must agree to accept these restrictions to search the Cities and Buildings Collection.

For more information contact:
Meredith L. Clausen
Professor Architectural History
University of Washington

Contributor Guide

The Cities/Buildings Database is always on the lookout for new sources of images. If you have slides you have taken which you would be willing to have scanned into the database please contact us.

When contributing please be aware that turn around time can be slow. We rely on a small team of student volunteers to scan and Photoshop the images and have been known to get backed up at times. If you can supply us with scans in a TIFF format at 1350 dpi or higher, and a fully processed JPG, then so much the better. Please observe the scanning and Photoshopping guidelines given below.

When preparing batches of slides please keep them in manageable sets of 20 to 40 slides each. When editing a batch please keep in mind how they are being used. They need not be beautiful from a photographic standpoint but must present useful information for the architectural researcher. Please, no posing tourists. Label each slide numerically on the left hand margin beginning with number 1. If there is any doubt about which side is up, please indicate this on the slide (preferably with a red dot in the lower left corner).

Please supply as much of the following information for each image as possible.

Please supply the above data with the slides and, if possible, as a plain text file attached to an email. Also include a signed note stating that you are the copyright holder and you are giving the Cities/Buildings Database permission to use them.

Database Photoshopping Guide

For every image we use in our database we need a backup TIFF and a medium (level 3) JPG that has been straightened, cropped, cleaned of specks and scratches, color and lighting corrected, resized, and given a copyright tag. The basic details/steps are:

  1. Scan the slide as a TIFF at 1350 dpi or higher, LZW compression.
  2. Save the TIFF as a Quality level 3, Baseline standard, JPG.
  3. Level the horizon if needed.
  4. Crop the edges.
  5. Zoom in and clear the image of specks and scratches.
  6. Adjust color balance, levels, curves, and brightness as needed.
  7. Resize: Landscape format 550 pixels wide, Portrait format 512 pixels tall.
  8. Add copyright tag: Times New Roman, 11 pixels, Bold, Anti-Aliased.
  9. The copyright tag should use black font, and be set in lower right corner if possible.
  10. Use symbol, date, name format. That is: © 1999 John Doe.


Concept design:

Technical Management:

This project is  supported in part by the facilities and staff of the Center for Advanced Research Technology in the Arts and Humanities (CARTAH) at the University of Washington (, Chris Ozubko and Richard Karpen, Directors.

We would like to acknowledge the following programs and individuals at the University of Washington for their continuing and generous support of the Archive:

The following individuals have also contributed to the development of the Archive:

Technical Assistants:

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