About the Pacific Coast Architecture Database

This website provides a range of information on the buildings and architects of California, Oregon and Washington. Also included are professionals in other fields who have made an impact on the built environment, such as landscape architects, interior designers, engineers, urban planners, developers, and building contractors. Building records are tied to those of their creators (when known) and include historical and geographical information and images. Bibliographical information, such as magazine and book citations and web sites, has also been linked for creators and their partnerships and structures.

PCAD History

PCAD was created in 2002 by Alan Michelson, now Head of the Built Environments Library, University of Washington, Seattle, while he worked as Architecture and Design Librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). First conceived of as the California Architecture Database (CAD), the scope was expanded to the Pacific Coast in 2005 when the site moved, with Alan, to the University of Washington Libraries website.

The original project aimed to create a biographical dictionary for relatively unknown and unhearlded designers who participated in developing California's built environment, utilizing the capabilities of the internet to make this information available to the public. Throughout its lifetime this original intention has remained consistent: to provide a public database from which a range of information on designers, structures, partnerships, and bibliographic literature could be linked and searched in various ways.

Alan Michelson has input most of the information currently populating the database. Additional assistance has been provided by UW students, Dipti Shah, Sara Lachman and Josh Polansky. Special thanks to Catherine Westergaard for her research assistance. The UW Library's Noreen Jacky has also provided extensive research information for PCAD.

PCAD Technology: Evolving with the web

Over the years the technology used for PCAD has been revamped on several occasions, following a trajectory that typifies how web applications have evolved since the turn of the millennium. Based on this history we have retroactively designated the current version PCAD 4.0, as it represents the fourth major technological change.

1.0: The first version of PCAD dating to 2002 was implemented by Terry Zeyen and Stephen Davison of UCLA Libraries on the ColdFusion platform, with a Microsoft Access database back-end.

2.0: When the website moved to UW in 2005, a new version was implemented by the University of Washington Libraries ITS group. This involved migrating the database to a modern client-server platform, Postgresql, which is still used today, and implementing a new front-end in php.

3:0: In PCAD's third iteration, also done by UW Libraries ITS and dating to 2009, the web application was re-implemented in python using the Django MVC framework. At the time Django was rather new and its choice a somewhat daring move, but this decision proved to be a sound one. Joe Edwards, formerly of the UW Libraries, was instrumental in developing its current form, while recent alterations and improvements have been made by the UW's Anne Graham, Corey Murata and Anjanette Young.

4.0: The most recent major revision of PCAD retained the Django-Postgresql platform but brought the user interface up-to-date using the Bootstrap CSS/Javascript framework, along with several other Django and Javascript libraries. In addition the administrative back-end was revamped to ease data entry and validation. Alex Tulinsky, a UW doctoral candidate in architectural history and theory, who also has extensive experience as a web developer, made these enhancements. He has reshaped the database's new format and helped to conceptualize long-term goals. For more details see this overview of the changes, and further descriptions of the mapping and network visualization features.

As part of the PCAD 4.0 rollout the application was re-deployed in a virtual server environment provisioned by the University of Washington IT group. This new environment will ease maintenance and allow for future enhancements and growth. The website's new identity was futher "branded" with its new URL.