top of page
architecture portfolio header-01.png

Getting It Together

Architecture Portfolio and Admissions

If in the fifteen minutes in which the examiner will go over your package you do not manage to build up an image that could sum you up in one sentence, then you have lost the game. 


 When you manage to build a profile that consists of a bunch of different ideas all converging at one point then you have managed to win the battle before it has even started.

Strategy is significant when applying

Before you begin developing the content of your portfolio, you should  reflect on what makes you different from everyone else and what it is that you want to generate as a person and as a designer.


Just like a script, this process defines a structure for your application and provides a solid advantage over other applicants.

Your strategy is the number one most important thing in the process of developing an architecture/ design portfolio.


Think of it as the initiation phase of any project. Be it in architecture or any other field, the initiation process of the project carries more risk than any other phase. The reason for that is that the it defines the broad strokes/ the trajectory of the whole effort.

How do you approach design problems

If you clearly communicate your personal strategy towards design, your portfolio will easily fall into place.



  • How do I approach design problems, and what is my process for addressing them?

  • An example is, do you have the tendency to observe patterns of behavior and form in communities and individuals?

  • Do you tend to over-emphasize poetics?

  • Do you rationalize as much as you should, or do you underplay the importance of the rational aspects of a design problem?

  • Do you celebrate form?

  • If you celebrate form are you a formalist?

  • Are you passionate about strong, complex concepts, and why?

  • Are you a combination of all these ideas?

  • And if yes, how do they come together to form a cohesive whole?


  • Do you tend to analyze behavior in the people who are supposed to use your architectural design?

  • Do you use this approach is your life as well?

  • And if yes, then how has this guided you throughout life?

  • How do you approach it?

  • How do you use your strategic approach on a day-to-day basis?

  • How are you planning to use this strategy as a student of the program that you are applying to?


All this has to be done methodically, and in a way that does not seem forced. You have to do your absolute best to integrate ideas about what makes you as an architecture school applicant special, in everything that you submit, from architectural sketches, to architectural models.

Define who you are to Admissions

Make the basic ideas that you want the admissions committee to absorb as easy to understand as possible.


This is the only way to make sure that a good project is fully appreciated.


By defining the identity of your architecture school portfolio, you are able to transfer the load from the individual project, onto your entire profile.


The identity is what brings all projects together to lift your portfolio. Even if someone does not understand or appreciate your individual projects, they will appreciate your identity as a candidate.

One of the most common misconceptions is an applicant has to be “what architecture schools expect them to be“.

Most colleges or universities expect academic merit from candidates, as well a demonstrated ability to think intelligently. However, this is not what will you accepted to the world’s top architecture schools. There are way too many candidates out there, and not that many positions. Therefore real competitive advantage when applying to architecture schools, has to be by differentiating yourself.

Some schools have developed a method for analyzing a student’s application. They define students strengths weaknesses and potential.


It is possible you could be viewed in over 30 different areas of the application and portfolio. Schools often try to define what would be the best way to improve the value of the application by allocating their time intelligently on areas that have the potential of generating the most value for the application.

Portfolio development

Breaking it down


A portfolio is essentially a tool used to present and demonstrate technical skills. 


It is ultimately what decides whether your application will be successful and can demonstrate that you will be capable.


If you are just starting your portfolio, ask yourself these critical questions

  • Does the portfolio tell a story about who you are and why your work deserves attention?

  •  What type of work best represents your multiple artistic abilities and draws attention to the type of design you are interested in studying?​

  • When and how should certain aspects of the work be emhpasized?


First-year, entry-level applicants should demonstrate an elemental understanding of

  • three-dimensional form and space

  • composition


  • ​sketches

  • drawings

  • photography

  • sculpture

  • ceramics


  • shadow

  • light

  • depth

  • color


There is no one type of successful portfolio.


The reviewer is curious to see student’s best work and will make a decision based on the creativity displayed. 


Edit your work by presenting each project in a clear, concise, and legible manner.


Do not include too many projects.


Think of the progression of the work:


  • Does the work show how each project builds on another?


  • Are they standalone projects that show diverse talents?


Depending on the college or university, students with a formal academic background and/or experience in design-related fields may receive Advanced Standing and be placed in higher-level design studio.

Advanced Standing

Breaking it down


The portfolio is a self-presentation tool that creatively communicates your design outlook and level of development through a variety of media and skillsets.


The portfolio should include a selection of design work.


Ability to develop convincing visual narratives through graphic presentation methods and written descriptions that convey the design development process.

  • research

  • inspirational material

  • concept generation

  • study models

  • drawings that demonstrate process/thinking

  • final presentation of design solutions


Demonstration of fundamental abilities to design and communicate design solutions using

  • 2-D and/or 3-D representation skills in any media

The skills need to relate to

  • plans

  • elevations

  • perspectives

  • modesl

  • space planning

  • diagramming and distribution

  • layouts

  • forms

  • color

  • finishing aspects


Demonstration of an understanding of functional and experiential issues related to


  • the design of architecture built environments

  • structural

  • environmental

  • building systems

  • spatial generation

  • organization

  • perception

  • design solutions

  • specific project results reflection contextual and programmatic demands


You need the ability to organize your graphics and visuals of the portfolio including

  • titles

  • styles

  • page composition

  • reference

  • information hierarchies


Examples of work completed outside of professional education like

  • photography

  • painting

  • sculpture

  • music

bottom of page