Performance in Synthesis


Performance is a tricky term in architecture – or perhaps more accurately, it is a word with endless readings. Are we judging the performance of the office with regard to productivity, creativity (which can sometimes conflict with productivity), or the economically beneficial returns to the client?There is also the performance of the building itself – does the building perform well in energy usage, or in terms of sale and resale value, or even its context within a larger urban framework? Questions abound.

To come to more of a resolution, we have to acknowledge that in architecture, performance is a term that will always have its shades of gray, but that great performance in architecture comes from the synthesis of these many competing objectives. You need a great client in order to do great architecture, Sir Norman Foster once said upon reflecting on his work. You also need a great contractor, and support from the local government, be it a city or small town.

In our office we try and establish a very transparent process that shows everyone involved the vision we are setting out for that project. I have been a firm believer in the statement, ‘Don’t talk about how to build a ship, show where the journey is going.’ That way, people are focused on a clear set goal.

All that said, my personalassessment of performance is measured by my ability to excite people about a project, and being able to reveal what makes a project unique and relevant within a global context.

About The Author

Matthias Hollwich is principal of HOLLWICHKUSHNER, LLC, a New York City based architecture and concept design firm. He is also co-founder of ARCHITIZER, a social networking platform connecting architects via their designs. Matthias is driven by the aim to upgrade man-made environments on a human and engaging scale with an ECONIC twist and can be best reached at (

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