Humanistic/Philosophical VS Tech Approach to MArch Application


First time posting on the Forum. I graduated with a none Arch STEM major and thinking about applying for March this year. I have about 2 years of tech managerial experience in the architecture world. Worked on an Arch portfolio for the past 2 years and with all honesty, started with barely any knowledge of how to do this to get by with decent design and approaches for different projects. But all of them have a "design with public/good intention" approach (shelters, public buildings, one is even about the meaning of life in a tech advanced world). A lot of my work is about organizing tech and my thesis is very much 1. I'm improving and learning as I go 2. it's better to understand why you are utilizing these tools before digging your heels into designing something based on any tools.

I meet a fellow applicant a couple of days ago, he is also thinking about MArch this year as well and he showed me his portfolio. This dude straight up pulled coding, facial recognition, heat recognition, machine learning, and even went as far as building a mock robotics demo for his project. Not going to lie the only techy things I have dabbled with in mine was grasshopper (I have to start learning Rhino from scratch last year so this is definitely not my thing) and I am feeling very destoried after that conversation. 

When it comes down to designing for MArch program.. should I focus more on tech and coding than my original approach? I still have some time to investigate it before application season. Some suggestions on which approach is better in MArch app are greatly appreciated. 

Jul 15, 22 11:11 am
Archi-nerd's comment has been hidden

I could answer your question but I am too bored to do so. 

Jul 15, 22 11:21 am  · 
 ·  1

Be the best version of yourself.

The worst thing you can do as far as applications go is to end up as generic as possible by trying to imitate what others are doing. More likely than not, they didn't get to where they are by following what everyone else is interested in at the moment. They wound up with that portfolio by virtue of their interest and the work that interest led them to.

What are your interests, your research direction (if any), your design principles (as nebulous as they should be so early in your education), and what are your goals?

It is good to have a very clear direction and have a proven track record at developing ideas using a rigorous methodology. But M.Arch applications rarely look for such focus - after all, you are not applying to to specialized masters degrees or research programs such as the Media Lab's. In those cases, yes - the candidates self-select through their specific interests.

Rather, most general M.Arch programs try to build a class diverse in interests, skillsets, and backgrounds. You'll probably have sculptors, former bankers, a couple of programmers, English majors, engineers, and a group with architecture backgrounds in your class. Everyone brings something fresh to the table. What is that thing you plan to bring, and how do you design your portfolio to best communicate these unique parts of yourself? It doesn't have to be robotics unless it's something you're clearly passionate about and have work to show for. The person you mentioned seems to check both boxes and good for him.

But you don't have to do the exact same. You have some ideas - What does organizing tech mean? - and your portfolio/application should showcase that part of yourself. It should be something you hold up as an example of what you are as a designer and where you hope to go at this point in your education. Dabble with focus, I say, and everything you put in your application should be of top notch quality. Don't stuff it with average projects for the sake of appearing diverse in your interests. A focused portfolio packed with excellent work and representation goes a long way.

Jul 15, 22 12:12 pm  · 
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Thank you monosierra for your sincere response... Really helps a girl out here. When I say organizing tech, I mean literally organizing the technology we are using in the office. When I first joined my current pose, there was no standard or guidance on how to use Revit or CAD, heck we didn't even have a Rendering software, to begin with; so I am tasked to standardize and implement these technologies in the office. But knowing techy toys exist and having people use them are very different things. When I started, I was "implementing" new Revit Add-ins, rendering software, VR and 3D printing left and right without knowing how people will actually use them. And now looking back, understanding where we are at as a firm, who needs training, and where and how to take advantage of these new programs was definitely more important. I kind of look at the whole design process this way, it's not working with the best gadgets but the right design/intention behind it. I'm currently working on 5 projects for my portfolio, 1 shelter, 1 dumb hyper-loop that I'm not proud of, 1 local signature piece for my community, and currently working through this "end of the world" scenario. Some I am happy about and some I'm not super proud of, but you can definitely tell growth from these projects. I'm thinking about the 5th to be a small lighting museum that goes around the county but it is still in the works. Again I hope I can express my passion for working on Humanitory issues and discussing philosophical ideas in my portfolio. My PS will also be about my understanding of current Arch design hot topics and my personal experience dealing with my own imperfections. I also intend on including an Index at the end of m y post describing what I think went wrong or was lacking at the end of my portfolio. Sorry for the long rant, I guess since I didn't start from design, I am going through a lot of crap learning and trying to figure out why Rhino isn't working. In the end, I just want to be proud of my progress and know that I won't be doing all of this hard work without getting an officer from my favorite school.

Jul 15, 22 2:26 pm  · 

Being good at something requires passion.  Passion requires interest.  Focus on work that interests you, even if it’s not popular or “in”.  

Jul 15, 22 1:32 pm  · 
1  · 

Thank you x-jla for your response. Really appreci ate it :)

Jul 15, 22 2:26 pm  · 

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