Materials Lab Collection

The Materials Lab houses a circulating, ever-expanding collection of 28,000+ material product samples - comprising one of the largest academic collections in the world. The collection allows students, faculty, and other material enthusiasts to discover, research and interact with a wide spectrum of material systems, technologies and fabrication techniques.

Collection Organization

The Materials Lab is organized by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat system. MasterFormat is sometimes described as the “Dewey Decimal System” of project organization, and is used by architects and engineers. MasterFormat provides a standard for organizing specifications, represented by a six-digit master list of numbers and titles.

Locating Materials


Use the header signs and summarized content lists, located at the end of each row, for the general location of material products by composition or function. MasterFormat labels on shelves and bins indicate specific locations of material products. In sections with many material samples, with multiple bins that share a MasterFormat number, items are further organized by manufacturer.


Our online database catalogs all items in the collection. Access the database to check availability for a specific material or product, or to browse the collection by criteria outside of MasterFormat. The database is searchable by five categories: composition, form, process, properties, and applications.

Once you find a material sample, use the twelve-digit identification number listed on the database to find it in our collection. This number corresponds to an item barcode, found on each material sample in the collection. The numbers on the barcode indicate the row where the item is located, the MasterFormat group it belongs, to and the item identification number.


Our material researchers are always happy to help. If you are unsure of what you need, or can’t find a specific sample, please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance at the front desk. If we don’t have a material that you are interested in, please let us know. We are always on the lookout for new products to add to the collection.


Masonry samples located in Row 1 of our collection
Masonry samples located in Row 1 of our collection

item detail_acme brick.jpg

All material samples are searchable on our online database
All material samples are searchable on our online database


Each material sample is tagged with a bar code that identifies its row location, CSI group, and item number