One of the most emotionally challenging aspects of architecture school for me was learning how to handle “reviews” or “critiques.” For those unfamiliar, these are times during the semester at which students are required to pin their work (renderings, drafted drawings, models, diagrams, etc.) to homasote panels or, alternatively, compose a digital presentation and present to a panel of faculty or professional architects. The goal of the exercise is to receive constructive criticism and advice from experts; to learn what works and what doesn’t in your design. Other students are also required to sit and listen to the feedback you receive in the hope that they too might glean information that will help improve their own designs (though most end up falling asleep after pulling several consecutive all-nighters).
Over time, I learned to appreciate these exercises. Still, as I find true with any form of artistic representation, I always felt that the design work I had pinned to the wall was an extension of my soul: a product of late nights, tears, and occasionally blood (many a fingertip has been lost when cutting model pieces with Xacto knives at 3 am). How are you supposed to react to someone criticizing the very content of your soul, especially when, to the untrained ear, the content of the criticism seems to be subjective and a matter of opinion? As I moved through school, I began to better understand the principles they were teaching us (composition, flow, form, function, etc.) and the feedback became more valuable. Nonetheless, it was a long learning process.
Last summer, having moved from Virginia to Pittsburgh, I felt as if I was preparing for a school review when I took on the task of revising my professional portfolio. For the first time, I actually wished that I had the opportunity to have my portfolio reviewed. There were feedback sessions available towards the end of my fourth year, but family issues and finals got in the way and I never made it. After graduation, I looked to the internet for inspiration but had trouble finding many good resources. So this time, I just decided to keep it simple, utilize my own handwriting for a personal touch, and highlight what I thought to be my best pieces. I tied the printed copy with a simple piece of red embroidery thread.
Now that I’m in the market for work again, I’ve revised it one more time. Architecture friends, I welcome your feedback. Everyone else, here’s my soul.
And as a bonus, there’s a glimpse in here of my kitchen and living room!
September 9, 2013