IIT Undergrad Seeking Portfolio Advice


Hi there,

My name is RJ Magoon, I'm currently completing my last year of my B.Arch at IIT, and was hoping to get some portfolio advice for upcoming internships through career fairs and potentially grad school later on. I was an intern this summer at SOM in New York, but will probably be looking for something a bit more local in the Chicago area for now (and potentially at a smaller firm).

Anyway, if anyone could give me some advice on the current draft I'd appreciate it. There is a much more condensed portfolio for sending via email so let me know if you'd like me to post that as well.

Thanks very much,




Feb 5, 13 5:53 pm

You have a great resume, a lot of really interesting looking work, with eye-catching renderings, clear diagrams and some nice models. Where I find the portfolio could use more help is in its layout. As a blanket statement, your use of margins and "white" space could be improved. All your text is very tight up against the ends of the page which makes it feel constipated and rushed. Pull the text away and introduce more vertical spacing between your lines of text, especially in the titles and descriptions for each project.

I find the right alignment of the project name and description really disorienting. As we read from left to right, I automatically assumed that the left page was a continuation of the project from the previous page which lead to confusion. I recommend moving those titles to the left. Again introduce white space, relax the text and pull it away from the margins. The same goes for your renderings and drawings. They don't need to be so prominent on the page. For instance, on page 12 (ISSUU numbering), the roof of the building is just about running off the top of page. Why not scale it down by say 85% and give it room to breath? Having all the renderings at roughly the same size and visual weight makes them compete for attention.

I think the portfolio gets carried away with the running strips of images, such as page 23 (ISSUU numbering). The layout would be really strong without the strip at the bottom. The images are so small and their placement is so peripheral that they seem really unimportant and I am not drawn to look at them.

I find the Appendix to be a bit of an odd choice. If you really want to include it, edit it down. Currently it feels like an storage closet rather than something that has been carefully curated (as a portfolio should be).

Another visually confusing design choice is the mixing and matching of "thin" white-borders, full-bleed pages and the feather effect. Try and be more critical about your choices here and go for more consistency. The use of the diminutive "Thin" strips extends to the dark grey bar at the bottom of each spread. I didn't even notice it at first, but it introduces yet another "thin" space on the spreads. I recommend nixing it and either eliminate the page numbers that are too small to read anyways, or sit them on top of the full bleed images.

Feb 5, 13 10:26 pm
ms. medici

Jesus, man. The white space doesn't just need improvement, it doesn't exist anywhere in the whole damn thing. 

This portfolio screams "I DESIGN WITH NO RESTRAINT" and it's very fatiguing to read.

Feb 5, 13 10:41 pm


Thanks very much fro the critical and very detailed response. After revisiting the document in an online - rather than printed, page-by-page - context, I agree completely with your insight. It's good to have the perspective from a fresh pair of eyes!

Feb 6, 13 8:51 am

I really like the work, and will repeat what is said above, the layout is the severe issue. As dumb as this sounds grab some magazines where you really appreciate the layout, and try to use those cues for your layout. At the very least you need to get a basic grid system in place for your layout, which I cannot see being in place. 

Your portfolio is a gallery to your work, galleries are clean, and white, let your work speak. This is cluttered. 

But again, you have very nice work !

Feb 6, 13 9:42 pm

It doesn't have to be white RJMagoon. But cleanliness is important. But don't make it like everybody's... Your work is complex, it would look out of place if it was in a minimalist portfolio.

I recommend going on issuu and looking at lots of architecture (MArch and above) portfolios - see what is successful, and what isn't...

Feb 7, 13 2:19 pm

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