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How to Set Up an Architectural Portfolio

by Bronwyn Timmons, studioD

Creative professionals use portfolios to showcase their style, vision and experience. As an architect, a portfolio allows you to show off structures you've designed -- and could help you secure employment. Architectural firms often request that candidates bring a portfolio to their interviews, so it's best to set up your portfolio before the big meeting. Whether you're a recent graduate or an established architect, your portfolio should accurately reflect your experience and skills.

Portfolio Format Options

Your portfolio can be in print or digital format. Print portfolios should be organized in a binder or similar case, and contain original or scanned copies of documents and designs. Digital portfolios are more versatile than print portfolios, and you have several display options to choose from. For example, you can publish your portfolio online through your professional website, save it as an electronic file, publish it on a disc or compile your portfolio in a Powerpoint presentation. Digital portfolios allow you to include virtual 3D renderings of your designs, giving them an advantage over print portfolios. Any of these methods are appropriate for an architectural portfolio, though putting it on a disc is the easiest way to bring it to an interview.

Resume and Personal Statement

Your portfolio should contain a copy of your resume. This way, potential employers or clients can easily see when and where you earned your degree in architecture, as well as any relevant job experience you have or internships you've participated in. Also include a personal statement that describes your vision and goals as an architect. Discuss what attracted you to the industry and what you hope to accomplish through your work. Talk about the type of architecture that inspires you, and the type of structures you'd like to create. Additionally, you may want to provide insight into your design process.

Designs, Models and Finished Products

Employers and clients want to know that they're hiring an architect who has the skills and knowledge to design a structure that suits their needs. As a result, the bulk of your portfolio should contain copies of designs you've created, as well as photos of models and finished structures you've designed, if possible. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recommends that architectural portfolios be 20 to 40 pages in length. Include a few conceptual sketches you've done, as well as detailed blueprints and designs. Only include designs that reflect your most recent skills and abilities, and try to include a variety of designs to show off your versatility as an architect. If your portfolio is in print format, include either the original designs or high-resolution copies. If your portfolio is in digital format, make sure all scans or photographs are high-resolution. If your portfolio contains photographs, make sure they are high quality and in focus.

Tips and Considerations

Update your portfolio regularly throughout your career so it always showcases your most recent work. In an interview with Archinect -- an online resource for architects -- several employers noted that spelling and grammatical errors were the most common mistakes they saw in architectural portfolios. Carefully proofread any text in your portfolio to ensure it's free of errors.

About the Author

Based in Colorado, Bronwyn Timmons has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites, covering topics such as career and education planning, wedding planning, home improvement, crafts and gardening. Timmons is pursuing her bachelor's degree in mortuary science.

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