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Alsop shock: 'Art career was ruse, I'm off to RMJM'

Will Alsop has revealed that his retirement to focus on painting was a smokescreen to conceal a move away from Archial

Alsop admits he exaggerated his desire to concentrate on his artwork (read his original comments here) to divert public attention away from a top-secret deal to move to commercial giant RMJM.

He told the AJ: ‘It was a bit weird, but I couldn’t come clean with anybody.’

A spokeswoman for RMJM confirmed that his move would have been announced sooner, however that would have been ‘really difficult with contracts to negotiate’ so had been pushed back.

The practice said the Stirling Prize-winning enfant terrible of British architecture – and the founder of Alsop Architects – would work in RMJM’s London office once his contract with parent company Archial comes to an end in February 2010. He is to create a studio called ‘Will Alsop at  RMJM’.

‘This will give me my freedom to set up an office under my own name that can build anything anywhere in the world,’ Alsop said this morning.

He added: ‘RMJM approached me in the first place, and I was quite impressed. What attracted me was the fact they put much higher store in design quality. Another aspect was their collaborative work with Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel. And from a personal security point of view, they are running a successful business.

‘I see this move as long term, I think my best work is yet to come.’

At the time of his original announcement Alsop, said his ‘decision has nothing to do with the economic downturn… I went to art school before architecture school and want more time than just weekends to paint.’

Alsop also attacked the lack of new public projects landing on his drawing board. ‘Over the past five years I’ve found it very difficult to get on any public projects or even on the lists. Am I doing anything for the Olympics? The answer is no. It sounds paranoid, but I’m fed up with the whole procurement system, particularly in London.

‘If you are not in the little black book you don’t get anything. It has led to using dull architects and dull architecture,’ he added.

The life of Will Alsop

1947 – Born in Northampton
1975 – Graduates from the Architectural Association, works briefly for Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew
1977 – Joins Cedric Price
1981 – Joins Roderick Ham
1981 – Set up his own practice, Alsop & Lyall in Hammersmith.
1991 – Practice renamed Alsop & Störmer after Lyall’s departure and the arrival of Jan Störmer
2000 – Alsop forms Alsop Architects as he and Störmer divide into separate practices
2000 – Awarded Stirling Prize for Peckham Library
2006 – Alsop sells his practice to SMC Group for £1.8 million
2009 – Announces departure from Alsop ‘to focus on painting’

Readers' comments (25)

  • What a trumped up little fart. The majority of the country is'nt doing anything for the Olympics; the rest of us mere mortals live with it and are having to fight tooth & nail for work while much of our unrealized bottled up talent lays stagnating inside our heads. The world does not owe you a living Mr Alsop, I've even managed to make my 8 year old son understand that.

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  • From looking at the quality of his 'art', this should have been abundantly clear to one and all from the outset.

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  • Quality of his art? If memory serves, isn't this the fellow who also told the press that the reason he has not designed his own house was because his wife would not tolerate this..... Telling, is it not.

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  • Will who?

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  • any chance the St Petersburg tower is a ruse too?

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  • Let's hope! RMJM is probably a good idea for Alsop, no-one will take it seriously from now on. Would you trust this man in future to tell the truth?

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  • "What a trumped up little fart. The majority of the country is'nt doing anything for the Olympics; the rest of us mere mortals live with it and are having to fight tooth & nail for work while much of our unrealized bottled up talent lays stagnating inside our heads. The world does not owe you a living Mr Alsop, I've even managed to make my 8 year old son understand that."

    Amen.

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  • "Alsop also attacked the lack of new public projects landing on his drawing board. ‘Over the past five years I’ve found it very difficult to get on any public projects"

    Alsop and The Public. Remember?

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  • So Will Allsop is now Corporate Man. Having posed for years as a "creative off-the-wall rebel" he is now talking like a PR person. His statement (below) is straight out of the Corporate Style Guide:

    ‘Over recent years, I have come to admire RMJM’s vision and the way it has embraced the current economic climate by expanding into new and emerging markets and strengthening its offering through the creation of global studios comprising dedicated experts in key growth sectors… I’m very excited to be working once again in a truly international capacity.’

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  • yet another business for our beloved Willie to try and bankrupt and more innocent staff he can relax his generous bowls over

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  • RMJM are a little like Manchester City...they are making signature 'signings' but still dont have much architecture (trophies) coming out of the ground.

    I'd be surprised if 'Will @ RamJam' actually builds anything.

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  • The cynic in me tells me this is a ruse to help smooth the path of the Gazprom Tower.

    Redesign it, Will. Lop off a few hundred metres.

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  • I hope this is a ruse too, otherwise he is going to bankrupt another company.

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  • They look like a bad opera singing duo...

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  • I thought it was the Labour party conference this week.
    Not the 'Tory Boy' conference!!

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  • Good for him!

    It seems in reading others' comments that he is alone in believing that anyone likes his work or that anyone but him, thinks that his ruse is good news. He predicts his best work is to come, judging by his past work that will only be true if he doesn't build anything ever again.

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  • Will?
    When?
    Who?
    Am I bovvered
    Do I look bovvered

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  • B-grade architect + B-grade practice = deluded idiots

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  • "Anonymous" seems to be free with the abuse. Is it that they are afraid to argue in public? Much easier to bitch at your betters from behind the shroud of anonymity.

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  • That's the fun of it dearie.

    But as for betters...

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