Too many group projects in a portfolio?


Are employers skeptical of portfolios that have a lot of group work? Is it bad to have more group projects than individual work?
I am currently in my third year in a 5 year MArch program. I have been given the opportunity to join a non-traditional studio where I help design a house that will be built by another studio the following year. I am interested, but wondering if this would be a bad idea. I currently have a lot of group projects in my portfolio, because the professors I have had so far have valued group projects. This would be my second design build studio.

Oct 14, 21 1:55 pm

Great question. Two quick thoughts:

1. As far as studio, do what interests you, and what you think will help you learn and grow the most. Don't let your portfolio drive your education too much. Perhaps if you've only done group projects, a project on your own would be a healthy exploration; but if you really want to do the non-traditional studio, do that!

2. For group projects in your portfolio, think about how you can illustrate what your role was in the group process in your portfolio. Don't just include final renderings- use your own sketches, or details, or whatever you contributed to tell the story of how your effort intersected with the group effort, and help shape the end product.

Oct 14, 21 3:08 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

Group work in folios is only suspicious if the applicant can't accurately describe their role and contribution to said group project... but our office has been burned on more than one occasion when the applicant used group projects to boost their own competence... and failed to live up to it when hired.  With that said, focus on the studio experience and the learning opportunities.  You control what goes into a folio in the end so curate as required to show your skills... not just a completed group project (which few employers will care about).

Oct 14, 21 3:17 pm  · 
2  · 

Just curious, what happened to the applicants who failed to live up to the expectations you had from them? Did they failed their probation period, given notice? Or did they have their contract renewed? Suffered reputation damage and failed to transition to other jobs?

Oct 14, 21 3:23 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

fired, eventually.... but after many many attempts to teach and align projects to suit our "revised" expectations.  Happened twice within a month if I recall correctly.  2 separate individuals, gone for the same reason after almost 2 years.  So not instant-fired, so we tried hard to get them up to speed.

Oct 14, 21 3:27 pm  · 

Have you seen this happening only at junior level?

Oct 14, 21 3:29 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

^ in my (edited) example above, one was junior, the other should have been senior... but came in with mostly group exp. Plenty of room to hide. Important note that I had no part in the interview or firering... but I was a reference for one of them after their stint in our office.

Oct 14, 21 3:33 pm  · 

I have seen this happening 2-3 times as well. I thought it can easily happen in junior level, but it also happened with a PA in our practice who didn't get past his probation period. Quite curious as to how that PA got past the hiring people and even more curious as to why you offered to be a reference for a dishonest employee.

Oct 14, 21 3:45 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

sorry, will clarify. I was not asked to be a reference nor did I offer... I was put in as one without my consent. I still gave an honest assessment of the staff's skills and reasons for dismissal because the person who called me looking for info is a friend but I was later told by my own office's ownership that I should have just confirmed employment dates... so my take on this is that the original dismissal might not have been amicable.

Oct 14, 21 4:15 pm  · 
1  · 

Contrary to basically all traditional design education, professional architecture is a group project. I'd love to see more emphasis on collaboration and labor sharing in student portfolios.

Oct 14, 21 3:49 pm  · 
3  · 

My only issue with this in portfolios is when role and contributions are not clear. Both in student and professional projects. 

Totally agree with you though, even if I am the only architect in the office working on something, there's still 6 engineers, a financial person, a client, the contractor, and the permitting body. I figure even the smallest project effectively has a 10+ person team.

Oct 14, 21 4:53 pm  · 
1  · 

Yeah as long as role is clearly defined, I don't have issue with group projects in portfolios.

Oct 14, 21 5:07 pm  · 

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