Winning 101 Secrets of Winning Revealed by krx14451


									   Winning 101: Secrets of Winning Revealed!
by Mary Fitch, AICP, Hon. AIA, Executive Director, Washington

Over the years, the staff has looked at thousands of entries for both the Washingtonian
and Chapter Awards competitions. We offer the following observations about what
makes for winning portfolios.

1. Ten-Second Rule. Consider that the Architecture category in last year's Chapter
Awards had more that a hundred submissions. A jury has little time to devote to each
entry—probably more than ten seconds, but not a lot more. It's critical that your
portfolio be clear and well designed so that the jury will put it aside to look at more
carefully in the second round.

2. A picture's worth a thousand words – and then some. Good photography is
critical to a winning entry. The Chapter has many fine photographers among its
members (including Anice Hoachlander, Alan Karchmer, Assoc. AIA, Robert Lautman
and Boris Feldbyum). Big pictures are better than small, and glossies are a lot better
than color xeroxes. If you've done your own photography, consider getting
enlargements rather than using the standard 4” x 6” prints. If your project is a
renovation, make sure you have a “before” photo.

3. Less is more. Although the jury will probably concentrate on images, a clear,
concise description of your project can be very compelling. In his award-winning
portfolio for the Hanson-Scianella residence, Mark McInturff, FAIA, describes the
project in one paragraph that starts with a good line: “This project involved a ranch
house and an eraser.” Think carefully about what you want to say and stay lean. Avoid
using “Archi-speak;” even another architect doesn't want to read that "the volumetric
proportion of this space gives it a transformative quality..." Think simple—think ten

4. Less is more, Part 2. Don't put in a lot of drawings just because you are proud of
them. Make sure they work to tell the story. A site plan, floor plans, and a location map
are all you really need; supplement only if a drawing helps convey why your design is

5. Tell a story. Think about the best way to introduce your design; don't just throw
the pictures together. You may want to start your portfolio with an interesting detail
shot, so that the juror will want to turn the page and see the rest of the house. If the
“before” shot is really scary, start with that. Make them want to turn the page. Put the
pictures in an order that works to your advantage. It gets really old to see portfolio
after portfolio with an “information dump” and little organization.

6. Neatness counts. It's okay to reuse portfolios you submitted to other competitions,
but tear off the stickers and dust off the sleeves! Give it a good once-over before you
7. Follow the directions. Once you've completed your portfolio, get out the Call for
Entries again and make sure you have addressed each requirement. Make sure you get
the number of digital photos at the right dpi on your CD. The staff is going to call you if
it isn't right and disqualify the entry if it isn't changed. You will also be assessed an
administrative fee; so be careful, don’t let this happen to you.

8. Use our resources. The Chapter's Resource Center includes winning binders from
1994 forward. It's always informative to see how other winners have designed their
portfolios. In addition, the staff can provide some useful advice and help.

9. Caveat Emptor: These observations are based on past juries, and every jury is
different. The next one might like lots of theory and find your dusty binders to be a bold
interpretive statement!

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