1. IMAGE = NARRATIVEThey say that a picture can be a thousand words, but that won’t do you any good if they are not controlled words, words that describe your idea clearly to the viewer. When it comes to presenting ideas, one of the most important things is trying to balance between fragmenting and integrating ideas. When it comes to integrating ideas, nothing is more annoying than a failed format, and nothing is more pleasant and informative than a successful one. The way we arrange photos, drawings and pictures, often referring to the same exact element, will determine how receptive the viewer is of our project. In the case of the Architecture School Admissions, it will make the difference between an M.Arch. applicant, and an M.Arch. Candidate.2. PROCESS = ESSENCE

If I were to grade the level of importance of individual elements or ideas that come together to compose a portfolio, I would say that “Process” is by far at the top. The reason for this is that as architects we live and die by the processes that we use when working on our projects. It makes sense therefore, that the process of creating a project is actually more important (when putting together a portfolio) than the product itself.


Effective diagramming of ideas and processes can make the difference between an architect and just an aspiring architect. The ability to communicate ideas quickly with a swing of a pencil will be essential throughout your career, from team-meetings at the firms you will work, to meetings with clients or contractors. Diagramming is particularly significant when putting together a portfolio as well, because (simply put) no one will read your text. The admissions committee members will take a quick look at some of your pages, and if they do not grasp their attention immediately, you and your lofty dreams are toast (very very dry). A great diagram captures the essence of your ideas and designs, and presents it in a way that captivates and often inspires the viewer. Mastering the art of diagramming is essential and if you don’t do it, someone else will.


Just like a city’s character can be defined by the organization of it’s urban blocks (see difference between NY and Paris for example), a portfolio can be defined by the organization of images on its pages. I am not suggesting that a square format or a grid format will define you as X versus someone else who will be defined as Y or Z by their use of linear or free-flowing formats. What I am saying is that the format will create a rhythm, a type of presentation, and will have some rules that may/ may not be appropriate for some projects or some target audiences. It is a very important factor to consider and try to determine early on.