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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Goettsch Partners Principal Joachim Schuessler

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Goettsch Partners principal Joachim Schuessler has emerged as a superstar in architectural design whose projects are contributing positively to skylines around the globe. Schuessler helped develop the core-supported design for 150 North Riverside, a 54-story Chicago office tower whose architecture was met with rave reviews when the building opened last year. Schuessler is also the senior project designer for Mennica Legacy Tower complex, a two-tower development in Warsaw, Poland’s central business district; Shenzhen Guanze Development, a 3M SF mixed-use complex in Shenzhen, China; and the 866-room Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In collaboration with James Goettsch and Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Schuessler's designs for One Chicago Square, if approved by the city, will be the sixth-tallest building in Chicago.

Goettsch Partners Principal Joachim Schuessler
Goettsch Partners principal Joachim Schuessler, shown leading a meeting.

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Schuessler: I am an architect. In my current role, I focus on the design of commercial high-rises — office, hotel and mixed-use buildings — worldwide. At the moment, I have active projects in Chicago, Warsaw, Riyadh and several cities in China.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Schuessler: I am trained as a stone mason. I love the role of the physical builder.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Schuessler: I once had a summer job delivering mail. There was a time when I spent five hours on a route that typically should only take three.

Bisnow: What was your first big deal?

Schuessler: The first major building I worked on was the Bayer headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, designed by Helmut Jahn. At the time, it was a milestone in transparent and sustainable architecture.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Schuessler: I don’t think in terms of failure; I prefer to think in terms of learning experiences.

Goettsch Partners Principal Joachim Schuessler
Goettsch Partners principal Joachim Schuessler, shown visiting Chicago's 150 North Riverside during its construction.

Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?

Schuessler: Waking up every day excited to work on an interesting project.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Schuessler: Not giving your best effort.

Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?

Schuessler: One of my professors in architectural school, Andreas Wolf, was a big inspiration. I credit him for pushing me to be my best.

Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?

Schuessler: The best advice I ever received was to understand how a building is constructed. If you understand the building process, it makes you a better architect. I try to forget any bad advice I’ve received.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Schuessler: I love to travel. I’m fortunate that I do a lot of international travel for work, but I also enjoy it for pleasure.

Goettsch Partners Principal Joachim Schuessler
Goettsch Partners principal Joachim Schuessler at Chicago's 150 North Riverside

Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

Schuessler: If I had to pick only one, it would be Café am Neuen See in Berlin. It is more about the setting, located in the Tiergarten, Berlin’s Central Park.

Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?

Schuessler: So much has already been said.

Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Schuessler: Changing firms. There is always a leap of faith.

Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?

Schuessler: I have great respect for people who put their hearts into what they do, especially teachers.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Schuessler: I frequently lose sleep during a design competition, when I’m trying to come up with an interesting concept — something that’s both innovative and functional.

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Schuessler: I have a number of outside interests, but I try to devote as much time as I can to my family when I’m not at the office.