RMJM is to launch a 'radical' restructuring programme designed to give the practice a younger profile and help it to give developers a 'run for their money'. Managers also hope the move will lead to a more coherent philosophy for the practice, and improve relations between its four offices around the country.
The drive is being led by the practice's Glasgow office, which hit the headlines when it beat Zaha Hadid to the city's 'Homes for the Future' prize in May (AJ 3.5.01). Last week, the office was given a further boost when it beat Page and Park and Kohn Pedersen Fox to win another housing development for Glasgow Harbour (above).
Director Paul Stallan said that he wants to turn the practice into part-developer, by borrowing finance and developing its own sites. 'Where we're going is more Urban Splash - I'm envious of the sort of thing they do. I just want to give developers a run for their money, ' Stallan said. 'This is not about scale, but more about influence.We could probably stay the same size and triple our influence.'
Stallan hopes the move will allow the practice to stick to its principles when pitching for work, rather than dilute its design work because of the demands of contractors and developers.He is particularly angry about being sidelined by contractors who 'leapfrog' the architect and deal directly with the client.
'If contractors can do that, why can't architects? We can't continue to be marginalised by the procurement process, ' said Stallan. 'I guess we feel there needs to be a change. People are feeling really pissed off about getting the rough end of the deal. We want to stand our ground and we think we can create a lot of value by doing that.'
Full details are not to be announced for another two months, but Stallan revealed that the practice is considering buying both a small engineering company and 'an established visual arts consultancy'. Younger staff will also be promoted to director level. 'Certainly, younger people will have to get the bit between their teeth, ' he said.
See Letters, page 22.