Performance is enhanced, targeted, tested, specified, reviewed and applauded. In each case, the design of performance is the orchestration of results. Architects might guarantee water resistance, for example, and calibrate this objective against cost, labor or the desire for exposure. Performance frames decision-making by metrics of efficiency, optimization and sacrifice (or yes, satisficing). In this familiar logic of technocratic governance, criteria are also codified in legal terms and challenged by architects who exceed lax building codes or undermine excessive ones. Beyond the technological, as argued in Perform or Else: from Discipline to Performance, engineered performance generates productive friction with that of corporate management and art practice. Employee reviews of workplace efficacy and theatrical events alike alter behavior, just as a building’s program might train or untrain well-worn habits.
Issue 03, ‘Performance,’ asks how criteria are established and enforced in architectural research practice. How do designers and researchers define, evaluate and communicate performance and its attendant value system? To what degree can we determine or guarantee performance? How do we acknowledge image and perception as a function of effectiveness? Who is performing? In a ‘demo or die’ culture, how and where is performance tested?