Master of Architecture Portfolio Review


I'm looking to get my portfolio reviewed for my 2021 Master of Architecture application to the University of British Columbia and Toronto. I applied the current school year but got rejected. 

My background is a a bachelors in Urban Planning with a Specialization in Urban Design. Any feedback/comments would be greatly appreciated :)

May 28, 20 3:26 pm

You have a good portfolio, but I feel your portfolio is focusing on Urban Planning & Design not Architecture.

May 29, 20 12:38 am  · 
2  · 

Thanks so much for the comment MAAK! I do agree and that was unintentionally played out, since I do not have much Architecture experience. One of my biggest struggles is trying to tailor my Planning work into something that resembles work found in an Architecture portfolio.

Jun 10, 20 12:04 pm  · 

Feels a bit... messy, to be honest. The composition on your last spread is nicer, maybe just line things up more uniformly and don't be afraid of white space in-between. Also same point as MAAK; nice variety of colour though, and your project titleblocks are all similar so good too :)

May 29, 20 3:08 pm  · 
1  · 

Thanks so much for this advice! White space has not been thought of carefully in comparison to consistent formatting. The more I look at it, I do see the messiness, I look forward to incorporating your comments :)

Jun 10, 20 12:07 pm  · 
1  · 

Hi hbedross.

Well done for having the confidence to put your portfolio our there for critique. I have some comments which I hope are helpful for you.

1. There is a very large quantity of writing - the review panel will not read this. Short and concise pieces of text communicate that you understand the intent of the work you are presenting, and are confident that what you are saying is also communicable in the drawings. You can include annotations if you wish for each image, but these should be short and shouldn't distract from the visual content. Pages 15 and 16 will not be read, and are a lost opportunity for you to communicate this research with visual content.

2. (a) The portfolio is very dense in terms of visual content and (b) there isn't enough hierarchy

(a) Your portfolio shouldn't look like an archive of everything you ever did in one project. The notation (1.1, 1.2..etc.) also suggests you are being too generous with what you're including, but not generous enough to the reviewer. This is a portfolio, not a report! You should choose the best quality images and drawings that communicate your intent. What drawings can survive on their own and have opportunity to generate thought and discussion? You have some really interesting models and drawings. But these are all getting lost within very dense content; it becomes difficult for me to decide what I should be looking at. This leads on to 

(b) You have some images larger than others, this is good. But you have too many images that are the same size. This can be good now and then if you want to communicate your design process. But multiple small perspectives of the same size look messy and don't tell me what you want me to look at. In terms of the photographs at the end, some of these look like very good quality, but there are too many in too small a space.

3. In terms of graphic design, unless you have a lot of experience with laying out books, I would recommend looking at design magazines or books, and copying the layout. This includes similar typefaces which are clear and not too stylised. The coloured banners on the left are a distraction and are giving you too much opportunity for written content. Let the pages breath and make some room for white space.

At a first glimpse, your portfolio doesn't really communicate very much. On a second look, there are some wonderful drawings and models. You need to edit out what's not important. Don't make the review panel have to look twice. It's up to you to decide what communicate's a project's intent most clearly.

Best of luck, and be confident. I know many people who improved their portfolio and managed to get admitted to the same schools the following year!

Jun 4, 20 8:01 am  · 
2  · 

Hi Ando, I am so grateful for your time to provide this very detailed feedback!! 

 Looking at my portfolio while reading all your points make so much sense. Your first point had such an interesting perspective about showing the reader that I do understand the context with a shorter and concise description. For the project provided in page 15 and 16 that you mentioned, would you recommend taking out such a project? 

The point was to communicate poster presentation and graphic design skills? Your question 'What drawings can survive on their own and have opportunity to generate thought and discussion?' is such a good point and I definitely have not given this much thought, which has lead to a portfolio with minimal white space and no hierarchy. 

 This is amazing advice and I will be incorporating all your comments, thank you! You have given me more confidence and I am truly grateful :)

Jun 10, 20 12:24 pm  · 
1  · 

Glad to help!

I understand now that this was a poster design project on pages 15/16; note how I didn't read what was in the banner on the left which means someone judging your portfolio is also unlikely to. 

I don't think this skill would be of much interest to a university panel in architecture. I actually get frustrated that universities give students the task of designing a poster when it is not part of visual communication or graphic design degree. It is a highly specialised task and never looks very good unless it is done by someone specifically trained to do it. I would most definitely leave it out. Know where your skills lie!

Jun 10, 20 12:34 pm  · 

Thats a good point, looking back, I would say those two pages would be my most densely populated ones and having those bold colors does drag the eye straight to looking at the poster as a big stand-alone piece. 

Your second point is very interesting I agree! 

Jun 10, 20 12:44 pm  · 

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