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The Materials Collection in the Time of COVID-19

Image of the Materials Collection located on level 2 of the Marriott Library.

By Luke Leither

Several years ago the Marriott Library introduced a Materials Collection to our building. The materials, selected by a firm in New York called Material ConneXion, represent innovations in material science and highlight sustainable practices in design and architecture. The library currently owns 1500 unique materials that add color, depth, and dynamism to our collections.

During COVID-19 we have closed access to the physical materials, knowing how tempting it is to touch and interact with them. However, for those of you still interested in materials and materials research, there are still plenty of options to explore virtually:

  • Material ConneXion Database: This database provides photographs, data, and specific use cases for the over 8000 materials in the MCX library. You can search by keyword or by criteria like feel, sound absorbency, and reflectivity.
  • ASM Handbook: This database provides access to the ASM Handbook reference series on metals and materials. The ASM Handbooks provide information and data about the selection, processing, performance, and analysis of structural materials. Until 1992, the series title was Metals Handbook. Under the new title, ASM Handbook, the coverage has been broadened to include coverage of nonmetallic structural materials including plastics, ceramics, and composites.
  • ARCAT: Here you can find building product information that is commonly used by architects and specification writers. Also included are CAD files and BIM objects for some products.
  • MatWeb: MatWeb’s searchable database of material properties includes data sheets of thermoplastic and thermoset polymers such as ABS, nylon, polycarbonate, polyester, polyethylene and polypropylene; metals such as aluminum, cobalt, copper, lead, magnesium, nickel, steel, superalloys, titanium and zinc alloys; ceramics; plus semiconductors, fibers, and other engineering materials.

For a more comprehensive list of resources and information, please refer to the Materials Research section of my architecture subject guide here:

For now, we have our own Materials Collection wrapped in plastic on level 2. Look but don’t touch is the COVID policy, but we look forward to the day when this is behind us and the materials are in our hands again!

Luke Leither | Assistant Head of Creativity & Innovation Services
Creativity & Innovation Services / Fine Arts & Architecture Library

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