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GIS for Architectural Research

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to identify data sources relevant to architecture in order to include data in their research.
  • Participants will be able to batch geocode addresses using free geocoding tools in order to map locations.
  • Participants will be able to create basic maps and edit features in ArcGIS.
  • Participants will be able to join tabular data to Census shapefiles using ArcGIS Desktop in order to geographically analyze demographic data.
  • Participants will be able to use ArcGIS Desktop to convert GIS data to the .AI (Adobe Illustrator) file format.

Key Resources

Free Batch Geocoders

Batch geocoding is the calculation of multiple addresses into their corresponding X and Y coordinates for easy displaying within GIS. While you can create an Address Locator in ArcGIS Desktop using reference data, the corresponding results will be based on the quality of the reference data used. This guide will describe two free batch geocoders that operate externally of any GIS application and return the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Bing Maps Platform API

  • Bing Maps provides a mapping API (application programming interface) allowing developers to make batch geocode requests. 50,000 geocoding requests made for education or non-profit services per day is permitted. (See Microsoft® Bing™ Maps Platform APIs’ Terms Of Use).
  • A Bing Maps API Key is required to geocode addresses. Sign up for a free key here:
    • When creating the key, you can use this image   as a guide.
  • Bing Maps uses Navteq as their street and geocode service provider.
  • The Bing Maps API geocode service returns coordinates using WGS84.
  • Free Applications that use the Bing Maps Platform API:
    • Excel Geocoder Tool: Download an Excel file containing the macros necessary to batch geocode your addresses.
    • GPS Visualizer: No download necessary. Copy/paste from your Excel sheet into the web form.


TAMU GeoServices

  • Texas A&M GeoServices provides free batch geocoding, reverse geocoding, and address standardization. Free registration is required.
  • After geocoding is complete, a verification email is sent to the email used during registration. After geocoding is complete, downad results here:
  • Texas A&M Geoservices uses TIGER 2010 as their street and address locator reference file.
  • Results of this geocoding service returns coordinates using NAD83.

How to Join Tables to Shapefiles Using a Common Field

ArcGIS Help: Essentials of Joining Tables

Preparing the Table

  • Specific rules regarding the header row (top row)
    • The top row must contain the labels, and data values must begin on the second row.
    • Only letters, numbers, and underscores are permitted in the header row.
    • Headers must not begin with a number.
  • File formats permitted:
    • Excel Workbook 97-2003 (.XLS)
    • Text Delimited (.TXT or .CSV)
    • Microsoft Access 2000 or 2002-2003 (.MDB)
    • dBASE (.DBF)


Performing the Tabular Join

  • One table will inherit the attributes (Target Table) of a second table (Join Table) based on a common field.
  • Right-click on the Target Table and select Joins & Relates/Join
  • Ensure 'Join attributes from a table' is selected.
  • Enter required information and OK
  • Open the attribute table of the Target Table and scroll to the right to see the joined attributes


Common Problems:

  • If you can not select the join field in the Join Table, the most likely problem is a field type conflict.
    • Rule: Can join Text field to Text field, or Numeric field to Numeric field, but not Text to Number.
    • Fix: Add a new field in the Target Table and define the new field as needed (Double for numeric or Text for text). Use the Field Calculator to copy the old field values into the new field.
  • If you are 100% sure with no doubts that the two join fields match but the reulting join are all NULLS, the most likely problem is an illegal character in the Join Table's header row.
    • Fix: Remove all illegal characters from header row. If you are 100% sure without a doubt that there are no illegal characters, open the table in Excel and use the Find or Replace tool to hunt for invisible empty spaces. Common hidden culprits are spaces at the beginning or the end of a field header.

Convert GIS Data to Adobe Illustrator

Numerous data files that architects and other designers need are available only in GIS format. The following guide will demonstrate how to use ArcGIS Desktop to convert GIS data to the .AI (Adobe Illustrator) file format.