by Fernando Rey, ASR Staff

In the forty years of my life, and the 20 years I have been involved with architecture, design education and the building industry I have come to very few definite conclusions. One of them is that perfection is an enemy, not a friend.

There are many things to think of while assembling an architecture school portfolio.First of all, you have to make sure that there is a proper strategy defining your entire application and the portfolio itself. Secondly, you have to make sure that said strategy somehow manifests in cohesive, well-defined, well-designed projects, and that the sequence of these projects as well as the sequence of the ideas in the individual projects themselves, are well thought out and somehow manage to differentiate you from the rest of a particular architecture school’s applicants. Finally, you need to make sure that the architecture school portfolio projects are well designed, well defined, and able to convey your passions as well as your ability to think architecturally and handle a variety of design media!!!

Long story short, an architecture school portfolio is so complex, that it is impossible of it to be perfect. There will always be problems with it, things that you could have done differently, or other things you would have rather not done at all. Therefore getting obsessed over producing the perfect portfolio could only create problems.

A major problem that it creates is that you end up spending too much time on your portfolio, ultimately improving it a bit, adding some value to it, and while ignoring other, important aspects of the application like the essay, the reference letters, and even your courses at school (grades are still pretty important when it comes to applying to universities).

The worst problem that perfectionism may cause though, is that perfectionists are unable to see the big picture at all times. If a perfectionist is dealing with a portfolio of 5 projects, and she becomes obsessed with one of these projects, then she will develop tunnel vision, and will focus only on that one project, ignoring how and whether or not this project fits in the overall concept / theme of the architecture school portfolio.

For all these reasons, maintaining balance is essential. Yes, do your absolute best when you are developing your portfolio, and do not give up until you get things right, but expect that you will never get everything perfectly and exactly as you want it. By allowing yourself to breathe a bit, you will be able to allocate your time more appropriately, and will end up building a better portfolio for your architecture school application.

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