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Architecture Application Process

A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones
Hello grade 12s!

I'm currently going into first year at Waterloo for architecture and I'd really like to answer any questions or concerns you guys have about applying to architecture programs.

Here's a bit of background info about me. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm going into first year at Waterloo's School of Architecture. Last year I applied to Carleton, Ryerson and Waterloo for architecture and I got offers from all three of them. I didn't apply to any other architecture programs (such as UofT or McGill) so I can't really say too much about them. However, I was quite neurotic about my university applications last year (which is not something I'd encourage) so I know quite a lot about the few programs that I did apply to.

So feel free to ask me any questions. I'll try my best to check this forum at least once a week.
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A photo of IronMan IronMan
I am going into engineering this fall and I am considering the infrastructure and building engineering option , and I would love to go for architectural studies in graduate school, so I have the following question can I be admitted the architects order once after finishing my grad studies in architecture faculty with an undergraduate engineering education ?
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@IronMan wrote
I am going into engineering this fall and I am considering the infrastructure and building engineering option , and I would love to go for architectural studies in graduate school, so I have the following question can I be admitted the architects order once after finishing my grad studies in architecture faculty with an undergraduate engineering education ?



Sorry, I'm not sure if I understand your question. The 5 schools I mentioned in the original post all have grad programs that are accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board. So when you complete their graduate programs, regardless of your undergraduate degree, you become a licensed architect in Canada.

Does that answer your question?
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A photo of Urnehpets Urnehpets
I've got kinda of an awkward question... How long was your portfolio. Like, how many pieces of artwork and stuff.

Thanks in advance :D
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@Urnehpets wrote
I've got kinda of an awkward question... How long was your portfolio. Like, how many pieces of artwork and stuff.

Thanks in advance :D



Haha, I don't mind you asking. I had around 20 for my Ryerson portfolio; 8 for my Carleton portfolio (because that was the limit); and about 15 for my Waterloo portfolio (because some of the pieces in my Ryerson portfolio were in my sketchbook).
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A photo of Roygbiver Roygbiver
Chiming in as a future McGill undergraduate student, I'll try to give an extensive explanation of my process for future applicants. I know I would have loved to read this last year.

Mine was 11 pieces plus a 200-300 word composition on a subject of my choosing (not required). Worked on it from September 2010 - February 2011. I used a bunch of mediums. Made a sculpture, did some printmaking (3 pieces), assembled two pages showcasing 4-5 of my best photographs, three paintings (watercolor, oil and a mixed media), some sketches, and even a creative technical drawing. If you show off your creativity and design ability, you can't go wrong.

Do research before you make a piece. I would come up with an idea, then think of ways I could improve it until I came up with something really sick.

Only submit your best. I had about 15 quality pieces but selected 11 of them to put in the portfolio.

Put a focus on the design of your pages but don't make it too cluttered. I spent the greater part of my winter break learning Photoshop.

Focus on continuity and flow. Put the pieces in such an order that they play well off each other.

If you have nothing at this point, don't stress out. I realized I wanted to apply in May 2010, but had ABSOLUTELY nothing prepared and no idea where to begin. Procrastinated all summer then finally got my act together in the fall. Bought a DSLR, learned the art of photography, signed up for out-of-school art classes, signed up for an in-school art class, drew in my spare time.

/killing time
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A photo of leighann leighann
do you mind me asking what your top 6 average was? and your physics average?. i want to apply to waterloo archi, but im not sure if ill get in
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones
I don't mind. My marks actually weren't very spectacular. My final top 6 average with the prerequisites is about an 87. I didn't have my physics mark yet at the time when they were looking at my marks to consider me for an interview, so they looked at my grade 11 mark which was an 80. I ended up with an 80 again in grade 12 physics though.

But remember, marks at Waterloo are only used to determine if you get an interview. As long as your average is at least in the mid-80s you should be fine.
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A photo of leighann leighann
thanks!, that makes me feel alot better of my chances of getting in.one thing im worried about if i do get in is the amount of jobs there arefor architects in canada. im worried i wont be able to find a job after i graduate. and do you know of a shuttle bus that goes directly from waterloos main campus to the architecture campus?
thanks alot :)
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A photo of Urnehpets Urnehpets

@dinosaurbones wrote

@Urnehpets wrote
I've got kinda of an awkward question... How long was your portfolio. Like, how many pieces of artwork and stuff.

Thanks in advance :D



Haha, I don't mind you asking. I had around 20 for my Ryerson portfolio; 8 for my Carleton portfolio (because that was the limit); and about 15 for my Waterloo portfolio (because some of the pieces in my Ryerson portfolio were in my sketchbook).



Was your portfolio like a booklet thingy, or was it just a collection of your artwork. Because honestly, I have no idea how to put my portfolio together. I've got my art, but nothing else :compress:

As a side note, is there any advice you have for someone trying to get into Waterloo Arch. Thanks.
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones
[quote=Urnehpets

Was your portfolio like a booklet thingy, or was it just a collection of your artwork. Because honestly, I have no idea how to put my portfolio together. I've got my art, but nothing else :compress:

As a side note, is there any advice you have for someone trying to get into Waterloo Arch. Thanks.[/quote]

My Waterloo portfolio was just a collection of my pieces. I just brought my sketchbook, originals and copies of my photos in since they prefered originals.

For Ryerson I took pictures of my originals and nice sketches from my sketchbook; printed out my photographs; and glued them into a portfolio book since they specifically told us NOT to bring originals.

For Carleton, also required a portfolio book so I put in some of my smaller originals, photos and photos of large pieces.

Hmm, I guess for your portfolio, remember to have pieces that show creativity and a higher level of thinking. Also be prepared with possible answers for your interview. They're probably going to ask you questions about your pieces, why you want to study architecture and any buildings/architects that you like. And for the precis, just take your time. It's difficult but you'll probably need to read it over a couple times.
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A photo of g93 g93
I ha been interested in engineering/architecture a few years back (actually took stuff in Grade 11 to set myself up for an undergrad in these disciplines), but a you can see by my signature, I havedecided to pursue a different field. As a result I know a fairbit about the field but nothing about the admissions process.

I have always wondered what exactly the portfolio consists of. From the posts inthis thread, it seems like it is largely artwork/photography/creative stuff. So is there no architectural plans, no mechanical drawings (and each or any of hand-sketched, drafted or computer-aided)? Would wing able to already use various architectural and CAD software not be beneficial? I know artwork can showcreativity and stuff, but I am surprised by hat seems like the sole focus place on it. Being ableto draw something abstract is cool and all, and shows that you could evil those skills into unique architectural forms, but is beingableto design a family home to fit a specific lot type, while keeping within all restrictions and codes and not going over budget on buidling costs yet keeping the home stylish not possibly more practical?

I'm curious, so please let me know (anyone with any information on the application process really).
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@g93 wrote
I ha been interested in engineering/architecture a few years back (actually took stuff in Grade 11 to set myself up for an undergrad in these disciplines), but a you can see by my signature, I havedecided to pursue a different field. As a result I know a fairbit about the field but nothing about the admissions process.

I have always wondered what exactly the portfolio consists of. From the posts inthis thread, it seems like it is largely artwork/photography/creative stuff. So is there no architectural plans, no mechanical drawings (and each or any of hand-sketched, drafted or computer-aided)? Would wing able to already use various architectural and CAD software not be beneficial? I know artwork can showcreativity and stuff, but I am surprised by hat seems like the sole focus place on it. Being ableto draw something abstract is cool and all, and shows that you could evil those skills into unique architectural forms, but is beingableto design a family home to fit a specific lot type, while keeping within all restrictions and codes and not going over budget on buidling costs yet keeping the home stylish not possibly more practical?

I'm curious, so please let me know (anyone with any information on the application process really).



Being able to use CAD and drafting are very useful skills to have beforehand, but they're also technical skills that can be easily learned. Creativity and an eye for design, however, are developed over a long period of time and lots of practice. Anybody can learn technical skills but your creativity is what'll make you unique.

Creativity is more than just being able to make things aesthetically pleasing; it's also being able to find new and innovative solutions to different problems. You need creativity and critical thinking to be able to make practical and stylish designs. AutoCAD is just a drawing/modeling tool. Being able to use it doesn't really say much about your ability to design buildings.

By the way, why did you change your mind and decide to be an accountant?
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A photo of Urnehpets Urnehpets

@dinosaurbones wrote


My Waterloo portfolio was just a collection of my pieces. I just brought my sketchbook, originals and copies of my photos in since they prefered originals.

For Ryerson I took pictures of my originals and nice sketches from my sketchbook; printed out my photographs; and glued them into a portfolio book since they specifically told us NOT to bring originals.

For Carleton, also required a portfolio book so I put in some of my smaller originals, photos and photos of large pieces.

Hmm, I guess for your portfolio, remember to have pieces that show creativity and a higher level of thinking. Also be prepared with possible answers for your interview. They're probably going to ask you questions about your pieces, why you want to study architecture and any buildings/architects that you like. And for the precis, just take your time. It's difficult but you'll probably need to read it over a couple times.



On a side note, how good are the Ryerson and Carleton programs. If I get rejected from Waterloo should I just pursue some other major, or would the Ryerson and Carelton programs be worth it?
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@Urnehpets wrote


On a side note, how good are the Ryerson and Carleton programs. If I get rejected from Waterloo should I just pursue some other major, or would the Ryerson and Carelton programs be worth it?



If you truly want to be an architect, your school (especially for undergrad) shouldn't matter because you'll end up with the same end goal regardless of what school you go to. You're probably better off in architecture undergrad programs to prepare for a career in architecture than finding an alternate route. Any other program won't prepare you for architecture as well as an architecture program.

Ryerson and Carleton are great programs. After my precis test, our program director gave us a little speech on getting rejected from Waterloo. He's worked at all the architecture undergrad programs in Ontario and he told us that the standards are all quite high so all the programs are pretty good.
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A photo of Urnehpets Urnehpets

@dinosaurbones wrote

@Urnehpets wrote


On a side note, how good are the Ryerson and Carleton programs. If I get rejected from Waterloo should I just pursue some other major, or would the Ryerson and Carelton programs be worth it?



If you truly want to be an architect, your school (especially for undergrad) shouldn't matter because you'll end up with the same end goal regardless of what school you go to. You're probably better off in architecture undergrad programs to prepare for a career in architecture than finding an alternate route. Any other program won't prepare you for architecture as well as an architecture program.

Ryerson and Carleton are great programs. After my precis test, our program director gave us a little speech on getting rejected from Waterloo. He's worked at all the architecture undergrad programs in Ontario and he told us that the standards are all quite high so all the programs are pretty good.



That's good to know.

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A photo of g93 g93

@dinosaurbones wrote

@g93 wrote
I ha been interested in engineering/architecture a few years back (actually took stuff in Grade 11 to set myself up for an undergrad in these disciplines), but a you can see by my signature, I havedecided to pursue a different field. As a result I know a fairbit about the field but nothing about the admissions process.

I have always wondered what exactly the portfolio consists of. From the posts inthis thread, it seems like it is largely artwork/photography/creative stuff. So is there no architectural plans, no mechanical drawings (and each or any of hand-sketched, drafted or computer-aided)? Would wing able to already use various architectural and CAD software not be beneficial? I know artwork can showcreativity and stuff, but I am surprised by hat seems like the sole focus place on it. Being ableto draw something abstract is cool and all, and shows that you could evil those skills into unique architectural forms, but is beingableto design a family home to fit a specific lot type, while keeping within all restrictions and codes and not going over budget on buidling costs yet keeping the home stylish not possibly more practical?

I'm curious, so please let me know (anyone with any information on the application process really).



Being able to use CAD and drafting are very useful skills to have beforehand, but they're also technical skills that can be easily learned. Creativity and an eye for design, however, are developed over a long period of time and lots of practice. Anybody can learn technical skills but your creativity is what'll make you unique.

Creativity is more than just being able to make things aesthetically pleasing; it's also being able to find new and innovative solutions to different problems. You need creativity and critical thinking to be able to make practical and stylish designs. AutoCAD is just a drawing/modeling tool. Being able to use it doesn't really say much about your ability to design buildings.

By the way, why did you change your mind and decide to be an accountant?


It is also naive and foolish to assume that every person with creative ability will be able to acquire technical ability, and will also be able to develop the skill of integrating their designs into functional architecture.

Creativity can be found in an architectural drawing (since that is what you are going to be creating anyways) and it can also be found in a mechanical drawing.

I am not saying that it should be solely based on what I mentioned. But there should be a balance. You don't want people with a ton of creative ability but no technical ability and no way of integrating their ideas, and you don't want people with a ton of technical ability but absolutely no creativity. You want a balance. Someone with creative ability who also has technical skill and already seems to understand how to integrate designs effectively.

My original post made it sound like I went into Grade 11 wanting to become an architect/engineer. This was not the case. I took courses that would allow me to fulfill prerequisites for both accounting/business and engineering/architecture programs in Grade 12. I made the decision before Grade 12 to pursue accounting and finance. If I had chose engineering/architecture, I was going to apply to Waterloo Mechanical Engineering, Systems Design Engineering, UofT Mechanical Engineering, UBC Mechanical Engineering and Waterloo Architecture and McGill Architecture. Never got near that point though. It's now a hobby :)
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@g93 wrote

It is also naive and foolish to assume that every person with creative ability will be able to acquire technical ability, and will also be able to develop the skill of integrating their designs into functional architecture.

Creativity can be found in an architectural drawing (since that is what you are going to be creating anyways) and it can also be found in a mechanical drawing.

I am not saying that it should be solely based on what I mentioned. But there should be a balance. You don't want people with a ton of creative ability but no technical ability and no way of integrating their ideas, and you don't want people with a ton of technical ability but absolutely no creativity. You want a balance. Someone with creative ability who also has technical skill and already seems to understand how to integrate designs effectively.

My original post made it sound like I went into Grade 11 wanting to become an architect/engineer. This was not the case. I took courses that would allow me to fulfill prerequisites for both accounting/business and engineering/architecture programs in Grade 12. I made the decision before Grade 12 to pursue accounting and finance. If I had chose engineering/architecture, I was going to apply to Waterloo Mechanical Engineering, Systems Design Engineering, UofT Mechanical Engineering, UBC Mechanical Engineering and Waterloo Architecture and McGill Architecture. Never got near that point though. It's now a hobby :)



That is a good point: not everyone is able to communicate their creative ideas well. And it definitely isn't good if you're unable to communicate them. But your ability to communicate through visual mediums will be shown in your artwork. You don't need to draw technical drawings to show that ability.

However, if you can make a creative AutoCAD rendering, that is just as good. I never said that mechanical drawings are unimaginative; I merely meant to say that the technical drawing medium is not necessary in a portfolio.

I hope you'll enjoy accounting. Just out of curiosity, which accounting program are you in? To my understanding, AFM is split into two different streams.
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A photo of g93 g93

@dinosaurbones wrote

That is a good point: not everyone is able to communicate their creative ideas well. And it definitely isn't good if you're unable to communicate them. But your ability to communicate through visual mediums will be shown in your artwork. You don't need to draw technical drawings to show that ability.

However, if you can make a creative AutoCAD rendering, that is just as good. I never said that mechanical drawings are unimaginative; I merely meant to say that the technical drawing medium is not necessary in a portfolio.

just think that the schools are setting themselves up for some failure by relying on artistic skill only for admissions. I'm assuming they feel that marks compensate for this, but high school marks are not really a good indicator. I can tell you that there are a lot of smart people and creative people who cannot figure out how to solve actual problems from an engineering aspect.


@dinosaurbones wrote
I hope you'll enjoy accounting. Just out of curiosity, which accounting program are you in? To my understanding, AFM is split into two different streams.


hanks. I am in the Public Accounting stream of AFM.

Have fun in architecture! One thing I wondered, are all of your courses at the Cambridge campus then? Or do you have some at the main campus?
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
Hi, I'm also a student interested in the Waterloo architecture program. I'm also a grade 12 and I was wondering, for your portfolio what kind of mediums did you use and how many did you repeat using? as well, how did you prepare for the precis and the interview?

I'm also planning to apply to Ryerson as well. How did the Ryerson in-person day go? was the sketching exercise hard? and the writing exercise?

+ Are you a really good artist? :S if you don't mind me asking what was your grade for visual arts? and did you take any other art classes out of school?
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@g93 wrote
I just think that the schools are setting themselves up for some failure by relying on artistic skill only for admissions. I'm assuming they feel that marks compensate for this, but high school marks are not really a good indicator. I can tell you that there are a lot of smart people and creative people who cannot figure out how to solve actual problems from an engineering aspect.



I agree, if schools only rely on artistic skill, the students probably aren't the best candidates. But at Waterloo, only 10min of the half hour interview was about my artwork. The rest of it was just questions about my interests to see if I was well rounded and questions about architecture to see if I have a sense of design.

And yeah, marks aren't always the best indicator, but there isn't much to work with. And that applies to all university applications.


@g93 wrote
Have fun in architecture! One thing I wondered, are all of your courses at the Cambridge campus then? Or do you have some at the main campus?



Thanks! All of our mandatory classes are in Cambridge with the exception of our term in Rome. We can choose to take an elective in the main campus as long as they don't clash with our mandatory classes. Unfortunately, that limits our options a LOT.
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@510976 wrote
Hi, I'm also a student interested in the Waterloo architecture program. I'm also a grade 12 and I was wondering, for your portfolio what kind of mediums did you use and how many did you repeat using? as well, how did you prepare for the precis and the interview?

I'm also planning to apply to Ryerson as well. How did the Ryerson in-person day go? was the sketching exercise hard? and the writing exercise?

+ Are you a really good artist? :S if you don't mind me asking what was your grade for visual arts? and did you take any other art classes out of school?



Hello! I used quite a variety of mediums. I had a couple prints, a few watercolour paintings, two acrylic paintings, one clay sculpture, a few pencil drawings and some digital photographs. But of course, you're not limited to these mediums. I took art classes throughout high school so I had the opportunity to try a variety of mediums hence, I had a lot of variety in my portfolio.

But I encourage you not to focus so much on the medium itself but the concept of your pieces. If you're strong in one medium and not so great in others, invest more time on your strengths (since you don't have a lot of time left) and concentrate on the ideas and designs you want to present.

I ran through a mock interview with some of my friends and got them to ask me about my pieces, my interests, buildings I liked/disliked and why I wanted to be an architect.

You can prepare for the precis by practicing with difficult reading passages. I'll tell you now that the Ryerson precis was much more straight foward than the one at Waterloo. The Waterloo precis was really difficult so brace yourself.

The sketching exercise was really simple. We were told to visually represent the room we were in. In other words, sketch the room. It wasn't very difficult and I'm sure you'll do fine if you've taken art classes before or if you practice on your own.

I wouldn't regard myself as a good artist. I think, if anything, my strengths lie in my ability to analyze and present ideas in a creative manner. I would rather not reveal my art mark because I don't think marks represent your artistic ability very well. I'll just tell you that my mark was above average.

And yes, I did take art classes outside of school but I only used a couple of the pieces I made in those classes but don't rely on school or art classes for your portfolio. The pieces that impressed my interviewers the most were ones that I had done from my own creative vision with minimal aid from teachers.
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A photo of g93 g93

@dinosaurbones wrote

Thanks! All of our mandatory classes are in Cambridge with the exception of our term in Rome. We can choose to take an elective in the main campus as long as they don't clash with our mandatory classes. Unfortunately, that limits our options a LOT.



I figured that would be tough for taking electives. It's not so much what you want but what is available.

And what, you get to go to Rome? I did not know that. Damn, I'm missing out.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
Thanks for the reply, it helped a lot! I'm new to the forum so bear with me if my posts are out of order or if it doesnt make sense.

Also, the WA website says they recommend students to take a history course in highschool. Did you take it? or do you know anybody else who did/who didn't? because I remember my school counsellor saying 'recommend' means you 'should'- I don't know if that's true. Do you think that by not taking history it'll affect my admission? It's not like I don't want to, but because of my timetable I don't think I'll be able to..
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A photo of dinosaurbones dinosaurbones

@dkong95 wrote

Hello!

I'm also a student who is currently in gr.11 and I'm really considering to go to an undergrad architecture program (looking into Waterloo and Ryerson). I have some concerns on applying to the architecture program as I am not confident about my physic marks. I have taken 'gr.11 physics' (in Alberta we call it physics 20)in gr.10 and I will be taking 'gr.12 physics (physics 30) in my second semester of gr.11. I received an awful mark physics 20 of getting 75% and I was wondering if they both check the gr11 & gr12 physic marks? Also in the interview, when the interviewers ask questions on how creative you are and ask about architecture questions do they expect you to come with smart answers?




Hello! I don't think they look at both grade 11 and 12 marks when they're both available but they're definitely going to take the grade 12 into consideration. And a 75% mark in physics is close to the minimum so I don't think it'll affect you too much in the unlikely scenario that they do look at it.

And when the interviewers ask you questions, you should do your best to have insightful answers. Remember, they're looking for the best students they can get. If you answer with a common or predictable answer you aren't showing much of your ability.


@510976 wrote
Thanks for the reply, it helped a lot! I'm new to the forum so bear with me if my posts are out of order or if it doesnt make sense.

Also, the WA website says they recommend students to take a history course in highschool. Did you take it? or do you know anybody else who did/who didn't? because I remember my school counsellor saying 'recommend' means you 'should'- I don't know if that's true. Do you think that by not taking history it'll affect my admission? It's not like I don't want to, but because of my timetable I don't think I'll be able to..



You're welcome, I'm glad I can help! When a university recommends a course it means that you're encouraged to take it. It also means that you're probably going to take a related course in the program so it's only to your benefit if you take the course in high school. That being said, you aren't required to have it and if you don't take it, it won't be looked down upon during the admissions process. I personally didn't take history. I have a friend who also got accepted into Waterloo and I don't think she took it either.
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