During this fourth installment of WHSAD’s Heritage Equity Lecture Series, Matthias Hollwich presented “The Future of Work” and how architecture is beginning to account for the work habits and behaviors that manifested out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Discussing green initiatives, flexible office spaces, and worker comfort, among other aspects of innovative design, Mr. Hollwich spoke to a future in which the person comes first and a vision in which structures fit seamlessly into surrounding environments.
Matthias Hollwich, the founder of HWKN, is a New York-based architect, artist, social strategist, and inventor dedicated to using architecture to change the world. Matthias was born and raised in Germany, where he studied architecture. He brings a distinct perspective to the firm’s designs, mixing German precision with American idealism. Matthias participated in a virtual meeting with Work Learn Grow and Makerspace participants on Wednesday, January, 12th.
HWKN is a New York-based global architecture innovation firm that works with cities, developers, and entrepreneurs to maximize the impact and value of their real estate assets. Creating a project vision for development sites, improving user experience, and improving balance sheets by incorporating creativity intelligence into the planning process. The CSS Hessel Museum, The Pennovation Center, Fire Island Pines Pavilion, and others are HWKN designs.
It was my second-time chatting with Matthias. Seeing how his mentality has changed and stayed the same over a year was intriguing. In the section of his presentation that stood out to me, he emphasized how our world has transformed overnight. Something that drew my attention was the urgent necessity for architecture to become more environmentally friendly to battle climate change, and he recognizes architecture and humans’ effect on the world. He’s worked on several notable projects, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.
Below, are some more takeaways from students who attended the session.
Mr. Hollwich’s “The Future of Work” was a brilliant presentation of how modern buildings will accommodate and take into consideration the new work environment that people have gotten used to due to Covid. As Matthias Hollwich was presenting, he brought to our attention the rise in the percentage of people working from home which rose from 5% to 35%. On account of many more people working from home, societies have now become accustomed to working in a comfy and calm environment, and Mr. Hollwich is no exception, as he presented to us from Quito, Ecuador in a more relaxed environment causing him to be more productive. With this knowledge in mind, many businesses such as hotels have already started taking advantage of this type of environment, making it a place where you can hold in-person meetings while also having things like room service, pools, and other luxuries.
Having this as inspiration, they came up with the idea of Sky Island, the first work resort. Other than just being a place where people can go to work and meet, it will also allow people to have other things to do by creating a more relaxed and productive environment. When I first heard of this project, I thought it was brilliant and couldn’t believe that it hadn’t really been thought of before. Sky Island isn’t like other workplaces and instead of it being just a regular old office building, it has lunchrooms, conference rooms, lounge areas, green spaces, nice views, balconies, pools, jacuzzies, steam rooms, and much more. It’s so nice in fact that from the outside it doesn’t look like an office building but rather a residential one.
Since buildings make up about 40% of the world’s pollution, Mr. Hollwich and HWKN have decided to take a green initiative to reduce the amount of pollution their buildings produce. Most of the building is powered by wind energy and other clean power sources. It also has a lot of green space that adds to the beauty of the building. The projects that HWKN are working on really impressed and inspired me and I aspire to be as creative as these architects. While listening to his presentation I really liked the fact that they took into consideration the type of energy and environment they wanted to create and looked for ways they could accomplish that sort of tone. Seeing a presentation from someone who has much more experience than I do made me realize how I can make my presentations better whenever I have a project that I need to present in the future.
-Richard Hernandez, WHSAD Junior
The meeting I was in with Matthias Hollwich illustrated his flexibility. For example, he wanted to show us a video, but this wasn’t possible because everyone in the meeting couldn’t hear anything he streamed, so Matthias just spoke over the video and made it seem like a slideshow. In my opinion, it made the meeting seem like there wasn’t even a problem at first.
This meeting has shown me his company (HWKN) doesn’t just care about making things look nice. They care about the future of working and want to make everyone enjoy going to work. With every project they make, they always think about the environment and care for the environment. For example, things they do to care for the environment is the use of low embodied carbon materials, all-electric development with no fossil fuels, and behavioral changes in the office environment. This helps the environment so much! So this gives me a lot more respect for them since caring for the environment is the hard way but the right way.
Overall, in my opinion, Matthias Hollwich has done many great things in the world. Making these crazy, amazing-looking buildings that you could look at for days, thinking and caring for the future, and of course, caring for the environment while working on these projects. I am thankful I was able to listen to Mr. Hollwich speak today, and I hope he works with WHSAD some more in the near future.
–Elyas Sherzai, WHSAD Freshman
In the meeting today with Matthias, I was able to learn, hear, see, and comprehend his idea as to how he came up with the buildings he and his team have designed. One of the buildings that caught my eye was the building iLive Frankfurt, located in Frankfurt, Germany. Once I looked at the building when he presented it in the meeting I was amazed as to how it was structured. The design of the new building is inspired by the new generation of buildings in Germany. The design principles shift the volumes of the horizontal masses to create a sculptural, moving building that adds energy to the surrounding area. The idea of the building is to make all the neighborhood come together. For example, since Covid-19 started the amount of people working remotely has increased from 5% to 35%. This has changed many people’s lives since they have to stay home and take care of their kids as well. This causes them stress since they have to focus on work and entertain their kids so that they are allowed to work. So with this building it will allow parents and children to come together by helping each other out with their work. While the kids are playing around, the building helps out the parents because the building has a jacuzzi, where the adults can go and let their mind float away. Another thing that I have learned during the meeting is that Matthias uses Revit instead of AutoCAD. The reason why they use Revit is because it focuses more on 3D modeling instead of AutoCAD, which focuses on 2D modeling. Even though WHSAD students have some skills in Revit, we can still learn it during school since we are already certified in AutoCAD. Also, we are allowed to learn it in school since the software is free. As the meeting ended I was very amazed as to how the projects are made and how you need to have a flexible and open mindset when creating a building.
-Arely Cortes, WHSAD Senior
Matthias Hollwich started out by saying that in a business you can create a lot of collaboration and meet many amazing people who you will end up working with. He had three big different types of topics, one of which was opportunity mapping. He also designed Pennovation at the University of Pennsylvania and Journal Squared in Jersey City.
He said that we should explore the opportunity of how we actually engage with the people in the future of architecture. There are three mega trends; one is experience. Look for a job and stay long, plus create the experience because it is a great value of having people working together, coming together in an office. Now it is about flexibility, you would have to make these buildings and the places more attractive to bring the people back. The second mega trend is space. That means that everyone would go to the office and work then go home and that all but now it is much more flexible, a bit work from home and a little more in a working space. The third mega trend is hoteling. That means that the office buildings aren’t just neutral boxes where you work but it is where you can get food services that normally moved into the office environment to make the work environment more convenient and more productive. The key is that we create an environment that becomes inspirational to people who want to be there. Mr. Hollwich wants to create buildings that really engage back and forth with people and the neighborhood.
Another topic on which Matthias spoke was how designers should really pay attention when making the environment much more sustainable. Architecture buildings are creating 40% of all pollution in the world so this is a very very big responsibility that they have to take care of. Plus when you are designing or building you have to be cautious of the place you’re doing it in because it will respond very differently because it’s a different city and different context. He recommends being socially engaged with people in your network because it is really important. Depending on what country you’re building in, there can be a different complex of building, and it is amazing how different the design culture and construction culture is in different places. To Matthias Hollwich it is important the inspiration that comes from people. Also love the kind of ideas and concepts and hear what people have to say and the way that the people respond to things.
-Jennifer Segundo Ramirez, WHSAD Sophomore