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Goldschmied attacks RSHP's 'culling' of older staff

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Marco Goldschmied has sent an open letter to Richard Rogers claiming the practice he helped found 40 years ago has undergone a ‘fundamental shift in its ethos’

The letter comes just weeks after Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) moved from its long-term Thames Wharf home and made a number of redundancies as part of a ‘significant restructuring’ of the practice

But in his letter to Rogers - with whom he founded the Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP) - Goldschmied said that this ‘reflected a fundamental change in ethos in the practice and the abandonment of a lot more than just the premises’. 

The former RRP managing director added: ‘Your steadfast championing of the less fortunate and the oppressed has endured the test of time and is undimmed in the half century we have known each other but I appreciate you may no longer have the appetite to fight for it in a practice now run by those to whom we gifted the reins free of charge.’ 

RSHP has been contacted for comment.

The full text of the letter

Dear Richard,

I am prompted to write to you following the final departure of the practice from Thames Wharf just before Christmas. The keys you handed back to me on Christmas Eve were a metaphor for something of much greater significance to me than just some bits of metal. 

The complex we originally bought together a third of a century ago as an operating oil refinery when Lloyd’s was only just coming out of the ground has seen many transformations not least in the architects practice we had founded five years previously and in the creation of the River Café five years later. 

But for all the physical transformations of the Thames Wharf complex one thing endured. The founding spirit and ethos of the practice as a socially aware, humane and collaborative group which put a shared quality of life as high on the agenda as the quality of the architecture. 

It was a practice where fun, informality and a collegiate life style went hand-in-hand with striving for design excellence. Of course, over the years, there were differences and arguments but never at the expense of the founding principles. 

The architecture of Thames Wharf magically reflected and facilitated those qualities. So it was with mixed feelings that I watched the removal men come to move the practice to its new home in the corporate Cheesegrater. 

I could not help wondering if the choice of new premises coinciding as it did with the cowardly pre-Christmas culling by email of several senior staff over 50 (but excluding Directors of course) somehow also reflected a fundamental change in ethos in the practice and the abandonment of a lot more than just the premises. 

I am sure this is not a conscious change on your part or, perhaps, you were not even aware it was occurring or had any say in even though you continue to allow the practice to be graced with your name. 

Your steadfast championing of the less fortunate and the oppressed has endured the test of time and is undimmed in the half century we have known each other but I appreciate you may no longer have the appetite to fight for it in a practice now run by those to whom we gifted the reins free of charge.

Maybe, with hindsight, some of our choices turned out to be less than wise but one thing that makes history interesting is the mistakes people make. So maybe that’s just how it is: the end of an era. 

With my very best wishes to you and Ruthie for 2016 

Marco

Response from Richard Rogers and RSHP

’Richard Rogers and the rest of the partners do not intend to comment on Marco’s personal opinions. But they do wish to correct a factual error and make clear that the recent departure of nine senior staff, by agreement following a full and proper one-to-one consultation process, was part of a considered strategy to secure the practice’s future growth through the promotion of new talent.’

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