How do I get into an architecture program in Texas?

Nov 14 '13 7 Last Comment
Nov 14, 13 9:12 pm

Okay, let me start off with some info, my current classification is a sophomore and I will be done with my core after the spring semester. I will be sending an application to UT's, UH's, UTSA's, and Texas Tech in Lubbock's undergrad programs, but right now I'm leaning more towards UH and UTSA. At the moment I'm taking a painting class and a drawing class, and I took a graphic design class in high school, which got me a photoshop CS5 certification. I guess that what I'm really looking for is mostly tips or suggestions on a portfolio. I'm not exactly sure how to start. Should I come up with a nice design, should I make it traditional, etc.  I'm also having trouble with content, what I mean by this is that I don't know what to throw in... Quality over quantity, or vice eras . Should I include letters of recommendation, achievements, or what? I would really appreciate all the help I can get. They're gonna start accepting application on January 1 and the portfolios on February 1, so this means I still have a couple of months but I really wanna get this out of the way. 

Btw first post.


Nov 15, 13 12:29 am


Nov 15, 13 1:09 am

There are no universal rules for a portfolio. Simply make it tell a story or something that has structure and flow. It shouldn't be a barrage of things that overwhelm the visual sense so balance and order is key. Don't pick weird fonts and colors for the heck of it--a lot of people can't even properly present in monochrome so keep things simple and direct before giving it the individualistic spin. If Helvetica works and you don't trust yourself on anything else, use Helvetica; if it's a white background, it'll be white like many before it and many that will follow.

Is the requirement a e-folio? Or a physical bound book or on loose paper under plastic sheets? I ask because scrolling through a PDF is different than flipping through pages. I wouldn't stick in anything but works and things that are of the mind (drawings, sketches, graphic designs, etc). Accessible writing if it aids in helping the reader understand you. Skip the brag list and recommendations.

You're at a point in your studies when you should not be asking anyone else how to present your own work. Advice and suggestions after an initial draft, sure, but not to get things rolling. Lay out everything you want to showcase, stand up (or zoom out) and think what thought or word or message can unify them into a whole. Trust yourself to make the initial choice.

Nov 15, 13 11:56 am

Hi, OP.  Like 24arches said, there are no rules for a portfolio, except for formatting rules (size, space, pages, etc.) each school will throw at you.  They may differ.

A couple of things:

  • make sure it represents you, and not what you think they want you to be
  • organize exhibits by typology, and not randomly, since it sounds like you will be presenting various media
  • do not bombard them with text, nor have it be too stark via too much white space
  • variety is good, showing you can master different things, but remember that it is important for you to convey that you can think spatially, in three dimensions, and also have a grip on proportion and scale, which various media can indeed show
  • try to see what successful portfolios to those schools look like; call first to see if this option is available ... it might be worth a trip
  • try to have an architect or architectural intern who is a recent graduate give you some tips, keeping in mind that they are not always right.

I am looking at your list of schools and the only thing I can deduce is that you're bucking for a 5 year B.Arch.  Is that your goal? Does UTSA mean Univ. of Texas San Antonio?  If so, is this a new school to come aboard in Texas, because I only knew of UT-Arlington other than UT-Austin?  Is it accredited by NAAB?

Of the schools you've indicated, I would rank them 1) UT-Austin, 2) U Houston, 3/4) tie between Texas Tech and a UT "satellite school."  That is, unless you live in Houston metro and plan to commute.

I had to do my portfolio entirely by hand, so that's the best advice I can offer, up in the bullet points.

Nov 15, 13 12:56 pm

what the f*ck is wrong with detwan's brain?

I went to Rice. I really enjoyed it. Houston is a great town, and I'd highly recommend it as an urban experience. Rice does the 5 year undergrad program with a 1 year of work experience = 6 years total. It's hardcore. 

Portfolios need to be nice, show good work, be easy to understand. Look at other people's portfolios and give it your best. And don't look like an idiot, proofread the damn thing. 

Nov 15, 13 1:06 pm


I was also going to suggest Rice, but he appears to be looking at publics.  Rice's private tuition is kept somewhat below market because of some endowment.  I don't know if that's still true.  The a-school is intimate, to say the least.  Its rep is known all over.  As an undergrad, you need some serious grades and SAT scores to get in there.  And there's even a train line running right in front of the school now to make enjoying Houston all that much easier.

Nov 15, 13 1:36 pm

Yeah, I suppose it isn't for everyone. And it does have a massive endowment. I should say that again "a massive endowment". I chose Rice because the Ivy's looked to upper-crusty to me, but it's true, UT, etc is not as highbrow as Rice. But if the OP is looking exclusively at TX schools they need to look at Rice. 

Nov 15, 13 6:45 pm

I'm currently a freshman at TTU in the architecture program. Texas tech doesn't require a portfolio for admission, and honestly I don't think submitting one would make much of a difference. The architecture program at tech is open admission, meaning that if you get into tech, you are automatically admitted to the college of architecture, so portfolios aren't really needed. I would however recommend taking some drafting classes at your school. In the second semester of your freshman year you'll start to take arch design classes and that's when skills in AutoCAD, Rhino, and Revit will come in handy. They start off the design classes as if no one in the class has any experience with those programs, but it's nice to be a little ahead of most people. Also, it looks really good to the professors if you already have basic knowledge of that stuff. And you get to take a freehand drawing class that's like 2 1/2 hours long, so if you like to draw, you're going to love that class (I have professor Jaddo, she's really nice, pretty lenient, and a great teacher). If you do decide to go to tech, I would recommend living in the architecture learning community, which is in clement hall. I don't live there but I have friends who do and they love it. Living there, you'd be surrounded by other architecture students who you can help with the projects and who can help you, plus there is a work room with computers that have all these really cool programs and stuff. I personally love it here. Lubbock is really fun and everyone is so friendly. If you end up at tech and you have any questions or anything, you can totally email me if you want! Good luck!

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