(another) (non-arch background) MLA Portfolio Review


Greetings fine individuals of Archinect.  I am another applicant hoping to get feedback on my admissions portfolio. I would highly appreciate and value your criticism,.

Quick Summary

 - Applying to 3-year (non-arch background) Master of Landscape Architecture (Cal Poly Pamona, University of Washington, Colorado-Denver, and Penn State)

 - Hold a B.S. in City and Regional Planning

 - 5 Years Professional Experience in Land Use and Environmental Planning

Nov 27, 13 3:38 am

Not sure why the "swirls" are showing up on the cover. Pretty sure I removed those.

Nov 27, 13 3:45 am

Font choice on first page is questionable. Stick to a single cohesive font family (stated on here before that if you don't trust others, use Helvetica or some generic staple font). A lot of words all over but the font size with non-contrasting colors is hard to see. More likely for someone to glance over than read. Ex: on page 10, you have space to make the text larger seeing all that available white space. Be laconic with words.

The renderings look very flat. I'd almost prefer a sketched version in lieu of the jagged baseline 3D model. Can you play around with it in Photoshop? Some do that watercolor effect and it might look better here.

Your photos are nice. Suggest omitting the entire right side on the last page of four. Or divide them up so one can absorb the image--pages are cheap.

Nov 27, 13 7:01 am

Thanks Arches.  Do you suggest I replace both font types with something more generic?

Nov 27, 13 11:17 am

Love the photography, maybe give them more space (page wise and on the page).  I just heard Alan Ward speak about his photography and how he started to do a lot of photography work with Pete Walker as a student.  The nice thing about the photos is that it shows your interest in landscape processes poetically in ways your project samples don't.

Nov 27, 13 11:29 am

I am also concerned that it does not demonstrate enough variety of skills/work (i.e., could use more sketches, etc.) and that I do not demonstrate a complete thinking process (from conceptualizing a problem through to end product).

Any comments in light of these concerns would be helpful.

Nov 27, 13 11:31 am
Non Sequitur

Demonstrating how you take an idea and turn it into a final project is key. I've always suggested to students to show one project from its beginnings to end. How you convert ideas to finish work is as important as the final product.

I've always found showing the back-of-the-envelop progress sketches shows a humble openness to one's design methods.

Nov 27, 13 11:36 am

Stick with one main font for headers, titles and then choose another for the body. Don't have to replace them but make it a consistent font family. Up the size and cut some text--try writing shorter sentences without "the" and let the reader wander off themselves. Basic typography says sans serif + serif combination, in either order (some prefer serif for text only and vice versa but eh, similar visual weight).

Sketches would help. I'm not sure how you even got these projects so a glimpse inside the mind certainly helps the reader understand. Renderings are nice to look at but it's largely an automated process involving software manipulation--not demonstrative of critical thinking, reasoning, or anything else that would make you stand out as a distinct designer/planner/etc.

Toss a few drawings in, organize, and revise. Your overall work is fine so just expand on the project concepts and sort out some layout quirks. 

Nov 27, 13 3:45 pm

Thanks Arches for the useful feedback. I'll have to put some more thinking into expanding the project concepts.

I may have some drawings I can toss in but they will have to be just that--thrown in, not full on project spreads. 

 Saw some nice feedback on the photography spread. I wasn't sure whether to include photos or not, as I've read (on this forum) that they don't add much value to a portfolio. Maybe a good option to spread the photos out is to use raw photos for the front and back covers instead of what I currently have with the photoshop filters. 

Nov 29, 13 12:43 am

The relevance of photography differs from person to person. A lot of applicants here have some arch background and are applying to a different criteria so their other life skills or interests probably matter less or are, frankly, underdeveloped (we can't be masters of everything). You're part of the non-background group that hasn't acclimated to what is expected of architects. Photography is telling in some ways because what you compose and describe is a worldview. Very seldom do two people hold the same exact frames of reference lest one sought out to imitate the other or held incredibly similar beliefs. Plus it's a nice break at times and shows the multifaceted nature of a person. Plus you're going for landscape architecture--being able to capture the serenity of nature is a skill. I don't do it well so you certainly have the upper-hand going against me in such a situation.

tl;dr everyone has a nice camera but they're not all Ansel successors.

Think of photography books--rarely do you see two photos to a side. It's typically one shot, maybe a description, and that's all. Give time and space for the viewer to ruminate and possibly extract some memory of place. Not sure if it helps in the review process but if you can captivate their minds for a split moment, you are doing something right. 

Good luck. 

Nov 29, 13 2:58 am

Awesome, thanks again Arches. 

WRT drawings, is it best to use a scanner or camera to digitze?  Anyone have experience/suggestions as to this?

Dec 1, 13 6:39 am

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