How to find plans of obscure buildings in your town

Before this semester, the internet was the only place I knew where to find building plans. Because I’ve only ever done case studies of projects featured on ArchDaily, my knowledge arsenal consisted only of plans that were released to the media by the architects. So what happens when your case study is a building in your small town that was not featured on an architectural website like ArchDaily?

The best bet, believe it or not, is the city’s Planning and Permitting office.

First, find the tax map key (TMK) of the property is it on. From there, I can find all the permits that were submitted for that plot of land (and of course, every building ever built needs the approval of the city).

If it’s a building, look for the permit application number for the new <library>, <apartment>, <church>, <office> built on the property. Usually construction documents are not uploaded online, so you would need to bring the permit number or street address to the city’s Planning and Permitting office to find it on the archived micro-films.