On Thursday, December 22nd, an email arrived in the inboxes of ArchDaily’s editors that made us sit up, shake off our holiday-induced lethargy, and take notice. MASS Design Group’s Year in Review email might initially have blended in with the many other holiday wishes and 2016 recaps we receive at that time of year—it recapped such highlights as Michael Murphy’s TED Talk in February or the launch of the first African Design Center—but it had one thing that we hadn’t seen from other firm’s years-in-review: detailed statistics about the firm’s achievements that year.
In recent decades, certain aspects of architecture have become increasingly open to scientific analysis, most notably when it comes to a building’s environmental impact. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see MASS Design Group’s claims that their work uses 74% less embodied carbon than typical building projects, or that 78% of their materials are sourced within 100 kilometers, but alongside these were some more unusual metrics: since it was founded, the firm has invested 88% of construction costs regionally, created 15,765 jobs, and in 2016 alone, their work served a total of 64,580 users. These numbers suggest a way of thinking about architecture that few have attempted before—a way that, if widely adopted, could fundamentally change the way architecture is practiced and evaluated. We spoke to MASS co-founder Alan Ricks to find out how these statistics are calculated, and what purpose they serve.