M.Arch Portfolio Crit.


Hello all, I hope all is well with you guys.

I will be applying for M.Arch I for the upcoming year (Fall 2020) and I am currently at the last stage of my portfolio. I have exhausted everything I have to make this for the past 4-5 months so I am looking for some critiques on it, any feedback, suggestions, comments are much appreciated!!

Here is the link:

A little bit background of me: coming from a non-design background, graduated with a bachelor of arts from a top liberal arts college, urban studies major with minors in fine arts & psychology. Had taken a couple studio courses and had undertaken a design-related senior thesis. So yes, I am very very interested in architecture but my academic experiences have only met architecture/design obliquely. I will be applying to some of the top M.Arch I programs (long shot but figured I might as well try). My dream schools are Yale and Penn if that matters at all, what they have to offer really aligns with my interests.

Couple specific questions I would like to ask:

1) For some schools I need a even more concise portfolio (such as GSAPP) but I am having a hard time thinking what I should take out, any suggestion regarding that would be much appreciated. 

2) cover page was freshly made yesterday after struggling to figure out what I want it to show, wanting it to look a little playful but simple at the same time. I do feel like its a little bit more graphic design-ish (with a little architectural tweak), so I am not sure how I feel about it. but I do like how it turns out.

Like I said, any input is greatly appreciated. If anyone who is on the same boat and need some peer review feel free to hit me up I would be more than happy to help! 

Thanks! ;)

Dec 11, 19 3:23 am

Hi chuckluck,

To sum up, I think it's a great portfolio that shows your strength, especially coming from a non-arch background, this is gonna say a lot to the admission committee. Honestly this is even better than some of the portfolios that were made by students with design backgrounds. However, there are some minor improvements you can make.

First project is interesting, I can tell that it is probably your most important project. I like the page about courtyard and its usage, very minimal and a lot of white space. The only page I think it's a little cramped up is the one with the axonometric drawing, maybe too much info on that page. Love the collage too it shows your point of interest well. Projects like this with socio-cultural implication will cater to the admission guy's taste especially for someone with your background.

I really love some of the presentation on the second project, less architecture-y, more urban design but it's totally fine. Page 13 appears a little off in terms of its layout, perhaps rethink that.

The third project is more "standard" but nicely done as well. If you are thinking of anything to remove for a shorter version, I suggest take out the last 3d rendering, it is unnecessary for you as a non-arch students to include that especially when you can communicate through hand-drawing and sketches. However its a nice render I would keep it for a longer version.

The feet(?) photographs are interesting, perhaps elaborate on that a little more, space allowing.

Coming back to your question, the cover page looks ok to me, I like the little figure and the unfinished letter, def makes it more architecture. It's minimal too. I am not a pro, so I would wait to hear what other people have to say about it.

I hope that helps. Good luck w your apps. Both Yale and UPenn are fantastic schools and also extremely competitive. If you had a great well-rounded liberal arts education, you should enjoy it very much.

Dec 11, 19 4:06 am  · 

Oh wow, thank you very much for such a quick feedback. I am glad you like it and I appreciate the points you mentioned. I also agree that out of everything, the last rendering is a bit out of place so maybe that's the one to take out. However I do need to take out some other stuff as well, let me know if you can think of any!

Thanks again :)


******Also I am not sure why, but issuu automatically makes it display in spreads while it should be read as single page.

Dec 11, 19 4:21 am  · 

I'm pretty sure almost all university recommends 2 pages combine into 1 which is what it looks like at this moment


Actually, most programs require the exact opposite, though some will accept either


I will link an amazing portfolio that you should pull inspiration from at the end. I'm sure you've already seen this one, but it's one of the best ones around.

Overall - looks fine, but comments are below:

- Definitely change the cover. I wouldn't do the craft paper and bubble letters. It looks pinterest-esque and amateur compared to your other work. and I would just focus on a simple drawing/graphic/etc... and simple clean font. 

- Table of contents is too large. Same comments apply throughout in terms of text layout/font choice. 

- Pages 6 & 11 are cramped. 

- I think the inverted sketches on the black background are not helping the sketches. I would just switch those back to normal. feels outdated

- I like your first project, although it does feel a little disparate in how it's presented right now. I do like the black and white (atelier bow wow looking) page but maybe introduce a light blue to the building in the site plan or color to the elements in the isometric drawings on page 8-9? It's a nice page already but I think it will strengthen it to just place a tinge of color on the things you want us to focus on. don't over do it though!

- I would take page 15 out. You already have a model on the page right before it that looks better than the illustration. Just transfer the diagram from page 15 to 14 and make them all a tiny bit smaller.

- page 16 needs some tweaking with placement, and I think if you print that drawing out and loosely sketch over it, it would be a more successful sketch. Looks a little constrained right now. That does for page 10 as well.

- I would also put Nature Immersion first in your portfolio, supplemental works second, Interplay third and walls talk last. With that said though - Nature Immersion and Walls Talk can be interchangeable. You want to start with your strongest project and end with your second strongest. So try switching the order of these and see how it feels.

Try this stuff and post an update if you have time. Good Luck!

Overall - just look at layout, font and hierarchy and try to mimic that. the work is not something you need to worry about right now

Dec 13, 19 1:41 pm  · 

Hey Archlandia, thanks a ton for the thorough review and for the possible points of improvement. Do you think the rendering at the very end is a bit redundant?


I would try to end with a “back cover” page for closure so you don’t just end on a project page if that’s what you mean?


I meant the last render of the nature immersion project, that's the page I am having a hard time deciding if I should keep haha. I had a look at the portfolio in the link, beautiful and very nicely made, thanks for the link. I am reducing all my main text to a 10pt instead of a 11 after seeing his. I was worried that people might have a hard time reading text too small, but after seeing so many portfolios with small text I think that should be okay.


No I like that render, it shows the full idea of the project in its context.



Dec 14, 19 2:23 am  · 

Good portfolio. Project 2 is your weakest and the images most incongruous with the rest of the work. If you are spending any more time on it, focus there. 

Previous posters had good comments as well.

Dec 14, 19 2:36 pm  · 

Thank you very much, unfortunately I only had 3 projects throughout my undergrad to work with, so I had to make the most out of it. I agree that the second project is not my strongest and appears incongruous. Appreciate it!


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