A portfolio can be thought of as a set or range of things that have been collected by ownership or contribution over time. It can be reviewed, assessed, and admired.

Designers understand something about audience and end users, at least because their product gets media coverage. Architects especially understand public work as it is framed by regulatory language and is so largely visible. Architectural and other urban forms have long been designed and built according to regulatory compliance, such as accessibility or international standards that appear in cosmopolitan junctions like airports and transportation depots. (Today architects discuss universality of design.) Some readers might recall that the transportation network connecting seamlessly to our everyday town roads and parking lots was once an international idea that was eventually engineered for public use and safety. Ideas, vision, and ‘know-how’ perpetually contribute to constructing the physical world we as a human society use to maintain our well-being. Many projects of the total of construction work are professionally designed and architected.

Like individual designers, design firms have portfolio. In the high-stakes world of professional aesthetic output, a portfolio matters more seriously for the business of a firm because it attracts clients and affects sales. Individual creative types show a range of portfolios. Only a few might stand apart from the crowd with production quality or another attribute. A portfolio never makes a standard summary of conformity, because the works and creative stories are unique, just as the clients and projects are. A service buzzword used today is “bespoke,” so designers deliver bespoke proposals that business people colloquially refer to as “solutions to a customer’s problem.”  A portfolio shows singular work and the special character of its creative authorship, individual or enterprise.

Design and visual portfolios might demonstrate productivity, influence, medium, along with some description. A portfolio reviewer might infer principles of context that are related to geographic features, client orders, economic availability, rules or regulations. All of this holistically is the communicated content of design proposals that are included in a portfolio. The content is deep and the presentation media should successfully communicate a message to current and potential audiences of clients and the firm.

Portfolio is a presentation that helps to make a set of things or experiences add up to something greater than the sum of its parts. So much attention is focused on financial or résumé portfolios that contain enough important numbers or facts. Decision makers are responsible to the scrutiny of every item, and maybe they want something other than what’s called “bean counting.”  When there is readiness to value something new it might not have a name yet, but it might have a label such as goodwill, intangible, or intrinsic. And these are indescribable and invaluable substance about what design delivers. Goodwill is free in the public realm. Goodwill is a common term and is popularly known. Intangibles are pervasive in architectural space. The intrinsic value of common goodwill is frequently found in the space of occupancy. It is not marked architecturally because it is immaterial space that is populated. The architectural indicator for social space is usually shown as empty space.

As the writer of Architectural Comment, I view many professional portfolios on the world wide web. There are few architecture firms that are consistently engaged with large international work. These firms know cultural roots and social expectations based on broad values, as confirmed in their portfolios. A relational bond with society can be instilled in public work. There are no words for it, and it could be guided by the market forces calculated into any client’s a priori budget. A high-profile architecture firm will have achieved a portfolio of completed architectural work that participates publicly. It could be evidenced by the number of visitors to a building, capacity and floor area, or public awareness via news and media. Architecture is more than a simple sign, more than an image, and minimally it is a space of/for function. Architecture is an all-of-the-above question and answer. When design is completely realized and tangible then it is ready for programmed use and maybe it is adaptive to public use.

It is worth the time to closely review the portfolio of an architecture firm exhibiting commitment to the public realm in the intrinsic ways that only design expertise can deliver. Intrinsic qualities, like “that special something” (je ne sais quoi), are the best of what design service can deliver, neither requiring nor excluding quantity. For writing on the subject of portfolio, I drew from my knowledge and familiarity with track records for architecture awards, which esteemed architects know better than I. Architectural programme and parti are favorite topics for Architectural Comment, although greater emphasis is placed on analytic nature of programme than the lofty role of parti. Programme and parti are the academically enduring competitive attributes of what makes one architecture proposal better than another. Trends related to a design proposal are another category that could be associated with relevance and acceptance; architecture is on view and in the public eye after all.

Portfolios of high-profile architecture firms are significant indicators of culture around the world. These portfolios of built architecture may represent groundbreaking relationships, visionary organizations, and phases of emerging technology. Economics and culture are architecturally pivotal, which means that architecture is something for everyone to talk about. Prominent architecture exemplifies careful design and selection of its time and the accomplishment of all its stakeholders. A portfolio of built architecture is a great accomplishment and current firms are leaders in their field. Portfolios with projects that are architected space of the public realm are of great interest.


Written by CPG


Architectural Comment – Be in on it.