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What do architecture programs in college look for in portfolios when applying?

I've heard that applying to architecture schools is really competitive. I've looked up some sample portfolios online, and they're always so amazing! I think of myself as an artistic person, but I don't think my art skills are phenomenal. If I don't have fantastic art pieces for my portfolio, should I even consider applying?
#architecture

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Mukesh’s Answer

Hi Erika,

Architecture is all about Imagination and Creative ideas to create a functional space.


In a Bachelor program for Architecture, your grades and a exam (if required by university or college).

Firstly, find a college or university where you want to study and do the reasearch on admission requirement . If you need any help in your reaseach for admission further do let us know.


All the very best for your Furture Ahaed.

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Norman’s Answer

Hello,Norman Cook here, I am now 72 and still very active in my Architectual career.

I did not start my career in Architectual endeavor although I dreamed of it all the time in school. However ,follow your dreams just sometimes the path is convoluted, my second love was sailing and it taught me all about materials ,construction, systems that brought me in to consulting and specification design work with architects and eventually to become a Architectual Designer a step above a CAD Architectual position restricted to laying down ploted lines....I gained the ability to inspire design, implement& Inspire the design outcome.

If you would like to meet and talk about your future and that of Architecture feel free to work with your Groupe advisors to establish a visit.

Norman recommends the following next steps:

Work with your advisor to set up a viisit
Start to assemble a list of your strong points and working knowledge in lieu of a portfolio
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George’s Answer

Architecture basically is a big topic! You don’t have to be an artist to apply, in matter fact, some architecture graduates don’t even practice art or buildings design, instead they spend all of their life researching problems related or architecture and urban design.

You’re not expected to have an architectural skills to apply. How do you see yourself qualify! Do you like technical things? Do you like making models? To you like art critic? You can use your art work, put in the computer and do some changes to It. Graphics could be used in the back ground to support your ideas, write your ideas, don’t be shy to express yourself, use photographs if you have some.

Good luck!

George
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Chris’s Answer

My advice would be to meet with (or email), the Director of a program you are interested in attending and get their advice. The program will dictate what they are looking for. Some programs might want to see slick architectural renderings in V-Ray, while others may cherish a hand-drawn section with watercolor (or both!). If the director is too busy to meet, seek a meeting with a tenured or associate professor, as they may have a hand in the selection process.

I might also add - never underestimate the power of narrative. Maybe you don't have a ton of sexy renderings or published drawings, but maybe you have a powerful story to share. Express why you want to get where you're going. Maybe you aim to change the world with your vision - so share your story and own your worth.

Also, don't be afraid to share non-architecture work. I used some web designs, animations, and poetry in my application - to show a diverse skill set. This is especially true if your preferred school is more design-focused and less technical.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

Schedule a meeting or email the Program Director/Faculty.
Build your narrative and sell your story.
Don't shy away from showing other creative endeavours.
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Michael’s Answer

Do some research. Some schools don’t require a portfolio when you apply. At the time I attended the University of Florida you did not submit a portfolio until the end of your second year. By that time you will know if architecture is for you or not!


But if you do need a portfolio, try taking some (serious) drawing classes and let the teacher know about your goals. Perhaps your high school art teacher can help as well.


Good luck!

Michael recommends the following next steps:

Check portfolio requirements of various schools
Take classes to improve your drawing skills
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Frank’s Answer

Undergrad architecture programs in Texas do not require a portfolio, but will consider them for placement. Keep in mind studio courses may only be offered once per year, so the process will still take 4 years or 5 depending on the program. Some Architecture programs are 4+2 where the bachelors is a pre-professional degree, and Masters is required for licensing. Masters programs require portfolios because students who have earned a degree outside of design will need studio courses to familiarize them with the program. This what Texas A&M University requires for portfolios:

Portfolio

The portfolio must include:

A comprehensive goals statement; 

A one or two-page resume; listing background information such as education, honors and awards, work experience, and relevant interests; and

Documentation of a minimum of six projects from the design studio sequence, at least four having strong building design content with evidence of tectonics as part of a comprehensive building design. In addition to photos of final project drawings and models, the documentation of each project must include a process description including the course title, program statement, and design goals and objectives. Photos of preliminary sketches and models are encouraged. If the project was done by a team, identify your individual role and work.

Faculty evaluation of each applicant's portfolio is a major element in the admission process. The portfolio must be concise in style, and bound as a single unit (8 1/2" X 11" preferred). If appropriate, additional supporting materials utilizing electronic media may be submitted. The portfolio will be reviewed by the Department of Architecture Master of Architecture program admissions committee. High quality reproductions must be used for drawings; slides are unacceptable. The portfolio must demonstrate abilities and skills in the following:

Architectural theory and design. 

Analytical and programmatic methods. 

Evidence of tectonics as part of a comprehensive building design. 

Proficiency in the use of design media (hand drawing and CAD). 

Clear use of the English language.

Now lets make stuff and best wishes!

Frank recommends the following next steps:

Look at all related fields: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, or Planning. There is no one direction when it comes to your design career. Just be sure of what you want and stick with it.
Visit the websites of the professionals: aia.org, asla.org, iida.org. Find local events/conferences and connect. Your doing the right thing by asking questions.
If you’ve chosen a profession look at what it takes to get licensed if that is you goal. NCARB for Architects. CLARB for Landscape.
Check out 30 x 40 design workshop on youtube. Well put-together videos residential architecture and design process.
For new students. “Drawing on the right-side of the brain” by Betty Edwards is essentially what I had for design communications first semester at UT Arlington. Highly recommend if you want to expand your drawing skills before spending all that tuition money.
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Virginia’s Answer

Hi!

When I transferred to a University from a two-year college, the way the university determined what studio level I would be placed in relied heavily on how well the graphics were in my portfolio. Now applying for graduate school it is almost the same thing.

For undergraduates I believe that from your graphics they can possibly determine where to place you due to the software you know/ need to learn. For example, someone who submits graphics made by hand might be placed at entry-level (freshman/sophomore), because the upper studios (junior/senior) use BIM modeling to create 3D models and renders to better explain their design ideas. I would also recommend showing hand made models in your portfolio, as that is taught in first year studios, as well as comprehension in the basic drawings needed in presentations such as floor plans, sections, elevations, axons, site analysis, etc. All that is mentioned is solely based on studio learning. You could be well in graphics but you may be placed at entry level because of a class that is required (ex: construction) prior for upper level studios. This depends on the university and their curriculum!

Some BIM model software that are sought after (at least in my university) are Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, and AutoCad. We also use Adobe software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and more. You can find great tutorials and classes online on Youtube, lynda.com, Linkedin learning, Skillshare.

This is all from my personal experience, I am sure it varies for different people. Hope it helps! Good luck!

Virginia recommends the following next steps:

Check the university of choices' requirements for portfolios.
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Laura’s Answer

Don’t be intimidated by a few online examples - instead learn more about the school itself- portfolios are just a portion of the criteria and some schools may not require one. Look at how the architecture program is in relation to the university - is it its own college or part of another? For instance is it within the college of engineering or liberal arts or maybe the college of arts? That will tell you a lot about the emphasis of the architecture program to see how your skills and interest match up. And Keep looking til u find the one for you

Laura recommends the following next steps:

Look for summer programs in architecture
Visit an architecture school and see what the student work looks like
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