The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania preserves the works of more than 400 designers from the 18th century to the present. The research collections in the Archives are available to faculty, students, and scholars for independent study as well as to support teaching in the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions. The archives facility in the lower level of the Fisher Fine Arts Building houses the Kroiz exhibition gallery, a specialized library, reading room, and seminar room, as well as storage and processing facilities.
The Architectural Archives gained its international reputation initially through the Louis I. Kahn Collection whose resources include all drawings, models, photographs, correspondence, and project files from Kahn's office. Purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from the Kahn estate, the Collection was placed on permanent loan to the University by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1978. The Kahn Collection attracts a steady stream of international visitors and has served as the basis for innumerable publications and exhibitions.
Other major architects whose work is represented in the Architectural Archives include Alfred Bendiner, Cope and Stewardson, Paul Philippe Cret, Frank Miles Day, Wilson Eyre, Frank Furness, Edmund Gilchrist, Lawrence Halprin, Warren Powers Laird, Mitchell/Giurgola, John Nolan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Zantzinger Borie and Medary. In addition to these American 19th and 20th-century architects, the Architectural Archives collects the work of several significant European architects. The Freidrich Weinbrenner collection is the most important archive of this architect's work outside of Europe and provided the basis for a major exhibition and scholarly catalogue by Professor David B. Brownlee.
From Britain come the drawings of Robert Adam, Gilbert Blount, William Chambers, James Thomas Knowles, and William Butterfield. From France, the experiments of G. Robert Le Ricolais are represented by an extensive collection of forty structural models, calculations, and drawing. A sketch book of 300 drawings by Barthelemy Vignon and student projects by Villain further enrich the collections.
In addition to serving as a study collection, the Architectural Archives initiates travelling exhibitions and collaborates with other institutions and repositories on loan exhibitions. Graduate research assistants in the Archives are offered the opportunity to organize four to six small exhibitions per year for installation in the Kroiz Gallery.