Exactly How to apply to an Architectural Design High School Program

Applying to High School for Architectural Design can be confusing- here’s exactly how to do it.

If you plan to apply to the Art and Design High School: Architectural Design program you’ll need a competitive art portfolio.

They are very specific about what they’d like to see in your Art Portfolio, so please follow the directions carefully, and give yourself plenty of time. 

When Art and Design High School admissions look at your Art Portfolio, what they’re doing is looking for strong candidates for their program. They are looking at your artwork to understand your unique artistic abilities and talents. They are looking for potential, that means how your present skills will grow and develop over the four years you will be spending at their school.

The Art and Design High School requests that you upload photographs of 6 to 8 pieces of original artwork that includes:

  1. A self-portrait using a graphite drawing pencil and paper done from observation (from observation means you draw yourself by looking in a mirror).
  1. A still life of at least 3 items, using a graphite drawing pencil and paper done from observation (from observation means you draw objects placed before you on a surface in front of you).

3. Choose ONE of the following:

Option1: Figure Drawing -Use a graphite drawing pencil and paper. Pose a friend or a family member and draw the figure from observation. (From observation means, you draw a live person)

◆ Draw the entire figure, filling the page: Do not cut off any parts of the body.

◆ Draw the figure with realistic proportions.

◆ Try to use value or lines to draw the folds of clothing.

◆ Include observed details and draw facial features.

◆ Place the figure in a simple setting so your figure is not “floating in


Option2: Interior Room Drawing– Use a graphite drawing pencil and paper. Draw any room of your home done from observation. (From observation means, you draw looking at the interior of a room in your home or another location that you are physically in.) Proportions must be realistic.

◆ Include a corner of the room that you may have a piece of furniture

◆ If these are in your space include: details of a window and door (for example the molding), a chair or sofa, upholstery and drapes/curtains using value and line, include observed details of the room (for example statues, a vase of flowers)

  1. Fantastical Sandwich- Use a graphite drawing pencil and paper to design a building or monument inspired by a fantastical sandwich. What would a sandwich look like as a structure? Feel free to use colored pencils if you wish…and have fun with it!

Incorporate architectural elements into the design.

Make sure to include a ground line and background, and fill the whole page.

Use your imagination and creativity–they want to see your wildest ideas.

To get started – Ask Yourself:

◆ What is the building’s purpose and who would visit it? ◆ Where are the doors and windows?

◆ Are there stairways?

  1. Pieces 5-8: Add 1 to 4 additional pieces to your portfolio that were created using any material in any form. 

They may be two-dimensional or three-dimensional. 

Possible suggestions for the Architectural Design major include: 

Looking out your window, what do you see?

A detailed drawing of a building exterior

A close-up of a piece of furniture

A perspective drawing

The Short Video- 

The Art and Design High School asks that you select three pieces of artwork from your portfolio and create a short video where you discuss your choice of subject and materials, motivation, and influences. 

  • You’ll be asked to upload the short video about the three uploaded pieces of original artwork. 
  • Your video should be no longer than three (3) minutes. 
  • Piece 1 and Piece 2 must be included

Helpful Links:




Ashcan student Seth was recently accepted into the Art and Design High School: Architectural Design, and these examples are from the Art Portfolio he used to get in

Follow us on Instagram to see More Portfolio Examples! @ashcan.art

We’ve helped hundreds of students successfully apply to

specialized NYC High Schools for Visual Arts

& we can help make sure your Art Portfolio is the BEST too

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