Grad School Portfolio Tips


Hello all!

Applying to grad schools for Fall 2021 and would appreciate some tips to spice up my portfolio. Background: I got my BS in Architecture from a small uni in Louisiana, graduated this past May. My overall GPA is a 3.73, but my GPA in my major is about a 3.9. My GRE score wasn't great- 147V,153Q,5AWA. I have one past internship experience and will be embarking to Switzerland for 6 months on another in three weeks. I hope to get into a prestigious school but because of my GRE score I'm a little worried so I want to make my portfolio look damn good.

Here is my current portfolio- not great I know, but I did it quickly during the semester while applying for jobs. I plan on reworking the whole thing. Let me know what you do like and what you think needs work.

P.S. If you plan on being rude on crushing my dreams, please just don't comment lol I'm already tender from getting crappy GRE scores. Thanks!

Aug 7, 20 4:39 pm

I didn't look super close at your portfolio.  That being said, I think the images are pretty successful.  I would reconsider the font choice; it is very fine and may be hard for some to read on a monitor.  I'm unclear about what the graphic on the front cover has anything to do with the projects inside.  The text notes on your wall section on p. 9 are too small and pixelated to read.

You may want to consider retaking the GRE, especially if it was your first time taking it, and investing a little bit in a study program.  Your scores aren't awful, but probably close to average.  This chart has the averages for each major. 

Aug 7, 20 5:01 pm  · 

Thank you so much for taking a second to look at everything! I really appreciate it. I'll definitely make those adjustments.

Aug 9, 20 12:01 pm  · 

Hi there, I like you portfolio, first project is quite nice, it'd be better to have your physical model being the 1st project front page. I also would consider take a new photograph for that model. It's a nice model, so utilized it. Love you section on first project. Overall, I think it would benefit you to have more technical drawings and diagrams explaining you projects a bit better. 

Aug 7, 20 5:20 pm  · 

Don't have the model anymore, from about a year ago :/ What would you recommend doing in that situation?

Aug 9, 20 12:02 pm  · 

gotcha, It might a need a better lighting i guess, it looks quite dark or maybe I need to clean my glasses . Another suggestion I guess is that it should be more coherent the way you show your drawings and images, not just one page dedicate to hand model and the other page is plan and other page is diagram. Instead find a way to let the images and drawings explain among themselves.

Aug 10, 20 2:00 pm  · 

decent quality.

Here is one advice I think would be important.

Could you adjust every image to 2 point perspective?

This is architecture standard and will make your images more professional.

Aug 8, 20 10:15 pm  · 

Yes I noticed that too and made that adjustment with my most recent project (which I haven't added to the portfolio yet...) For some reason, I didn't know that was the standard- for some reason I wasn't taught that . I just hope my revit models will be in the same condition to go back and get better shots. Fingers crossed! Thanks for the tips!

Aug 9, 20 12:04 pm  · 

Hi, you don't need to rerender. just go to photoshop and use the perspective tool to aligh all the Z axies lines. easy fix

Aug 9, 20 12:40 pm  · 

Oh good to know! Thank you so much.

Aug 10, 20 7:00 pm  · 

Overall the images are quite successful, but I would suggest you add more process diagrams and explanations. The few process images lack explanation and reasoning and seems to just be tacked on. 

Aug 10, 20 12:34 pm  · 

Thank you for your advice! I appreciate you taking the time to look at it! I will definitely make some new diagrams to go with the projects. For some reason diagrams weren't something we focused heavily on in my school so I honestly didn't learn how to do them until my last semester. Hence why I want to get the hell out of these small local schools. Thanks again.

Aug 10, 20 7:02 pm  · 

Very minimal and clean which is nice, maybe try reducing your title and paragraph font sizes by 1/3? Not much else to add to the other posts, good luck!

Aug 10, 20 4:01 pm  · 

Thanks for the rec! Will definitely revisit the font size :) Appreciate you taking the time to look at it!

Aug 10, 20 7:02 pm  · 

ok so prestigious schools care about these things, in this order:

1) portfolio

2) statement of purpose

3) recommendations

4) GPA

5) GRE scores

your GRE is perfectly acceptable.  design schools only care because university administration makes them care...the only way it factors into an admit decision is if you totally crater the test.  or ace it.  

your GPA is likewise acceptable.  

idk about your sop and recommendations.

which brings me to your portfolio.  it needs work.  you aren't expected to be a technical wizard or produce photo-realistic renderings, or even be very good at design.  they'll teach you that.  you are expected to think, and to be able to communicate a thought process via. iterative design work.  that is wholly missing from your portfolio atm.  adcoms give zero fucks about renderings, yours are fine, but use those to back end your design arguments, which you demonstrate through drawing and model making.  my problem is that i see a lot of finished work, like your urban design project, but nothing shows me how or why you arrived at that particular solution.  and these don't need to be polished pieces of work!  scanned sketches, a dirty iterative model, a bit of reading you did that steered your us that.  look at how OMA presents their projects to an architecture audiance--a good example is the seattle public library exhibit @ the library itself.  and ditch the quote at the beginning, it seems staged and trite.

also, its totally acceptable to make retroactive "thinking pieces" that demonstrate how you arrived at a solution.  the best example i can think of is weiss manfredi's olympic sculpture park. that beautiful folded model+those black drawings with white linework?  they made those after the project was finished, for marketing purposes.  be like them

Aug 10, 20 7:16 pm  · 
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Thank you so much for your time and advice. I appreciate the honesty and suggestions a lot. What school did you go to? :)

Aug 11, 20 10:03 am  · 

I echo all the sentiments shared on your portfolio. Great start with lots of potential. I like your font choice but it does read a little light, almost low res. What dpi are you using to export your pdf?

The only thing I'll add is there seems to be a lot of different ways of organizing your drawings on each spread and different graphic tricks like gradient then no-gradient on the transition title pages. I'd just keep it consistent as much as possible to not confuse the reviewer.

I am a big fan of post-rationalizing and organizing your diagrams based on how you would present your project orally. If you feel you need to cut down your pages, there's definitely opportunities for that as we can tell your rendering capabilities based on just 2-3 renders.

This is a minute criticism, but for your main title page, what if you blew up that object to where it just shows a close-up pattern obscuring its object-like nature. Play around with the scale and see what looks best. It just looks too clunky and object like.

Good luck!

Aug 14, 20 10:04 am  · 

Ditch the inspirational quote, and the table of contents.  Also cut the 2 pages of interior design at the end: this is not strong work, and you want to end on a high note.

There are a lot of distracting bad things going on with your text: phrases randomly italicized, words wrongly capitalized, misspellings even in large titles and captions (examples: "Diagraming", "longitudnal"...)  If you don't have a friend who is strong in editing I would advise you to hire somebody to proofread. 

The rest of the work is ok, though there's a sameness about all the projects that gets repetitive.  Do you have any other non-architectural artwork that you could add - perhaps sculpture, painting, life drawing?  Something else to show more creative potential is advisable here, as the whole thing is a little too rendering-intensive, in ways that are not at all experimental, and none of it shows much about your unique design sensibilities or potential.

Aug 14, 20 12:42 pm  · 
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