RMJM has dropped its support for a much-publicised initiative, Architecture for Everyone, aimed at encouraging young black and ethnic-minority people to study architecture
RMJM’s decision to withdraw its support package, once reported to total £1 million, emerged just a week after it was revealed that the practice’s owners had injected £8 million of their personal wealth into the company in a bid to revive its fortunes.
The Deptford-based Stephen Lawrence Trust, which organises the programme, has confirmed it is seeking new practices to ‘adopt’ the campaign following RMJM’s withdrawal. The practice has abandoned its partnership with the trust two years into the three-year programme.
Paul Anderson-Walsh, the trust’s managing director, said he was ‘naturally disappointed’ by the programme’s abrupt ending: ‘We have begun talking with firms who might like to form part of a consortium that will adopt the campaign and partner us.’
Lisa Basu received a bursary from the Stephen Lawrence Trust to study architecture at the University of Edinburgh. She said: ‘This could possibly be the worst time that funding for this programme is scrapped.
‘Students from diverse backgrounds need support more than ever. The effects of this will be felt further down the line when the profession will lack the diversity it needs to enrich it.’
Jean-Paul Tugirimana, who took part in RMJM-supported workshops last year at the Stephen Lawrence Centre and is now studying architecture at the University of Greenwich said: ‘The next generation of talented people in London and across the UK don’t have any connection to the design profession.’
An RMJM spokesperson confirmed the practice’s involvement with the initiative would cease at the end of this financial year.
Launched in March 2009, Architecture for Everyone engaged more than 200 students in architectural workshops. RMJM sent six students to a Harvard summer school and gave another two work experience in Shanghai.
Dami Lapite, part II architecture graduate
Source: David Vintiner
This is quite worrying for the future and for those like myself who are from ethnic minority or unprivileged backgrounds.The question we need to ask is: ‘With the plight of architecture now and in the foreseeable future and the ever increasing expense of studying in the uk, how will young students from low income backgrounds not to mention ethnic minorities from low income backgrounds, be inspired to pursue a profession which is expensive, and which is not giving them any cause to aspire to?’ I’m dumbfounded as to why a big company like RMJM would deter from continuing this commendable effort in encouraging young ethnic minorities to pursue a career in architecture.
Cherry Harris of Edward Cullinan Architects
Rather than criticizing this action, we should commend the two years of supporting opportunities which RMJM were able to provide to young people through their funding of the Architecture for Everyone scheme. It’s indeed a shame to hear that they are in a position of re-evaluating their funding support, but this seems understandable given the recent news of the company’s situation. Of course there’s never a good time to cut funding to such an effective cause which encourages diversity in careers in the built environment. In my own experience, at age 17 and being of Jamaican decent, I was encouraged by staff at my school towards information from The Stephen Lawrence Trust, who at the time offered a scholarship to study Architecture at Sheffield University. I owe the work of the trust for introducing me to the profession at a formative stage in my education and for being key to my decision to go on to study Architecture at University. The success of the Architecture for Everyone programme should be built upon to increase opportunities, get the right information into schools and to support and inspire change in the way the profession is understood by young people.