Kollhoff spent the first six years of his life on the family farm in Thuringia at the southern tip of the newly established DDR. In 1953 the family escaped to West Germany and settled in Northern Baden.
Kollhoff began his architecture studies at the University of Karlsruhe in 1968. As an undergraduate student Kollhoff was indirectly introduced to the teaching of Egon Eiermann through the courses that Eiermann had written, but no longer taught, and through his work in the Karlsruhe studio of architect Gerhard Assem who had been a collaborator of Eiermann. In 1974 Kollhoff studied at the Vienna University of Technology, and worked for one year at the studio of Hans Hollein. He returned to Karlsruhe to complete his diploma thesis in 1975. Then with a scholarship from the DAAD to attend Cornell University, Kollhoff studied, alongside Rem Koolhaas, amongst the stimulating atmosphere prompted by the academic rivalry between architectural historian Colin Rowe and architect and theorist Oswald Mathias Ungers. Kollhoff became an assistant to Ungers in 1977.
Kollhoff opened his own studio in Berlin in 1978, and since 1984 has run the studio in partnership with Helga Timmermann.
Until 1985, he was an assistant at the HdK (Berlin University of the Arts), and until 2012, Kollhoff was Professor of Architecture and Construction at the ETH Zürich. He has held several guest-professorships both at home and abroad. His projects as an architect in Germany and Europe span all scales, from the civic to the residential.
Hans Kollhoff's architecture is characterised by a classical building-style and the use of solid, traditional materials, such as stone and brick, worked according to traditional methods. During his career, Kollhoff has developed in the direction of a more and more traditional form, often using classical motifs. For this reason he is sometimes criticized for creating an outdated "retro-architecture", that loses itself in a nostalgic imitation of traditional formalism. However Kollhoff's work, with its attention to detail also within the interior space, may be read as a continuation of the work of early twentieth century architects, see Adolf Loos.
In Berlin, he has designed in Potsdamer Platz a high-rise tower in an old-New York brick style, for DaimlerChrysler. He was also responsible for the master planning of high-rise buildings on the Alexanderplatz. Among his works are also the reconstruction of the former Reichsbank into the new Foreign Office, and the so-called Leibnizkolonnaden in the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf near the Kurfürstendamm. In 2005 he constructed the inner rooms of the exclusive night club Goya on Nollendorfplatz, that opened on December 1 in the building where the Metropol had formerly been. In Frankfurt am Main he has erected the 88 meter tall residential building Main Plaza in the Deutschherrnviertel.
- (in German) Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, 2007. http://kuenstlerdatenbank.ifa.de/datenblatt.php3?ID=556
- Cepl, Jasper (2004). Kollhoff & Timmermann Architects: Hans Kollhoff. Phaidon Press. p. 9.
- Cepl, Jasper (2004). Kollhoff & Timmermann Architects: Hans Kollhoff. Phaidon. p. 10.
- (in German) ETH Zurich. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2007-08-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Cepl, Jasper (2004). Kollhoff & Timmermann Architects: Hans Kollhoff. Phaidon. p. 13.
- Ganzoni, David. "Hochparterre".
- Ooij, Dieuwke van (19 October 1993). "Alexanderplatz vooral kleiner Hans Kolhoff geeft bekendste plein Berlijn nieuw gezicht". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 May 2010.