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RMJM’s Goodwin Dukes it out over international commissions

June 1 2010

RMJM’s Goodwin Dukes it out over international commissions
Fred Goodwin has been thrust into the spotlight again after the former banker paid a visit to Buckingham Palace last Friday.

Goodwin was visiting Prince Andrew in his capacity as international trade ambassador alongside RMJM chief executive Peter Morrison.

The one hour meeting explored opportunities for RMJM in overseas markets and how the Prince could help the architects win lucrative foreign commissions.

As part of his business role Andrew lobbies overseas contacts to procure British goods and services. No stranger to controversy himself his wife was recently embroiled in scandal after offering to sell access to the Prince for £500k.

There is no suggestion of any impropriety in this meeting.

RMJM have built up an impressive overseas presence in recent years proving to be a genuine Scottish success story and are currently involved in separate negotiations with Unesco over plans for a 396m headquarters for Gazprom in St Petersburg.

The organisations world heritage committee are to deliberate this week over its position on the tower, leaked papers suggest that despite acknowledging the “professionalism” of RMJM the organisation may call for authorities to suspend work on the project owing to concerns over skyline impact.


World Citizen
#1 Posted by World Citizen on 1 Jun 2010 at 12:28 PM
Sorry? UNESCO has said it will remove St Petersburg from the list of WHS if the Gazprom Tower is built. RMJM has been involved in some pretty unpleasant stuff in St Petersburg, supporting Gazprom and its hired thugs who have been beating up residents who object to this monster towering over its skyline, and the bulldozing of important archaeological remains on the site.

Latest news is that Tony Kettle of RMJM (and more to the point the St Petersburg authorities...) may have at last seen the light, but that's only because the opprobrium of many throughout the world has forced politicians and thus RMJM and Gazprom to reconsider. So much has happened of dubious legality over the entire Gazprom Okhta Tower scheme, but clearly Urban Realm is only interested in the RMJM PR.

Scottish success story? It's a global mega business far removed from its Edinburgh origins, bought out by the Morrisons.

Read this, says it all really about this 'success'

Malcolm Fraser on RMJM and Sir Fred Goodwin. MFA won the Architecture Grand Prix at the Scottish Design Awards on Friday.

"Goodwin’s appointment reveals little has been learnt from the crash
January 24th, 2010
By Malcolm Fraser

The news that the disgraced former chief executive of RBS, Fred Goodwin, has been given a berth at architecture firm RMJM is strangely delicious, like hearing the school bully, who is still treated with respect by too many, has turned-up wearing a BNP badge.

RMJM are, to me, already the epitome of what the ruling business establishment wants from “architecture”. They represent architecture as pure business model, with its crafts base and ethical sense subservient to the business interests of its corporate clients and its production line outputs glammed-up by high-art marketing -– RMJM have already provided a home for architectural “terrible enfant” Will Alsop’s celebrity shape-making bling.

There was a wonderful symmetry to this RMJM/Alsop dream-teaming, and I thought it lacked nothing until I heard this. Of course! What was missing was the application of some neo-liberal financial speculation, leading to proposals for an excitingly-whacky Dubai Formula One business center in every town …

What a fine exemplar of our failure to learn from the 2008 crash, and our monumentally daft hubris over our relationship to our built environment and the world as a whole -– oh, how I tire of those who tell me that “we just need the confidence back”!

So while my heart goes out to my friends who work down the mine at RMJM, and I fear for the application of the RBS business model and the final trashing of a once-great company, I do so enjoy the brazen effrontery of it -– it’s helpful to get these things out in the open.

I’ll try not to think what might happen in the second great crash -– will I have to pay vast RIBA subscriptions to bail out Alsop’s pension?"

Instead, I’ll enjoy the sight of turbo-capitalism (on stilts!) eating itself.
Towering Rage
#2 Posted by Towering Rage on 1 Jun 2010 at 18:03 PM
A satirical take on the RMJM and Gazprom affair, courtesy of Chto Delat, in the style of Brecht.

#3 Posted by fiona on 1 Jun 2010 at 18:44 PM
I could not agree more with Malcom's article. It is a disgrace that this banker got a great pension and the bank was bailed by the taxpayers, and ramjam made a lot of folk redundant in edinburgh and then have the money to give a job to the banker. Maybe they should pay 500K to the duchess so they get a business deal. This looks like a banana republic kinda of situation. A disgrace.
World Citizen
#4 Posted by World Citizen on 3 Jun 2010 at 10:55 AM
Tha latest news according to Building Design today is as follows (extract)
"Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has backed opponents of RMJM’s flagship Okhta Centre in St Petersburg in a major blow to the Gazprom tower project.
In a letter to St Petersburg officials, Medvedev told the city’s leaders to take heed of Unesco’s warnings to halt the building of the proposed 403m-tall tower or see the city excluded from the list of World Heritage sites.
The RMJM-designed tower, thought to have a budget of $3 billion, was put forward as the new headquarters of energy giant Gazprom, of which Medvedev was formerly a board member.
The president wrote to the city officials to express his concern over the project’s potential to damage Russia’s reputation and its relationship with Unesco.
“President Medvedev and the Ministry of Culture are supporting the World Heritage Committee request that alternative plans for the tower be envisaged,” said a Unesco spokesman.
In a further blow, Russia’s
minister for culture, Alexander Avdeyev, has also called for the project to be stopped.
In 2008, Unesco asked Russia to halt the plans and develop alternative designs “respecting the value and spirit” of the historic city.
The Unesco committee is due to meet in Brazil next month when it will again look at St Petersburg’s position as a World Heritage site in relation to the Gazprom proposal. If the plans remain unchanged, it is expected to place the city on the World Heritage in danger list."

Apparently RMJM was unavailable for comment. Odd that, as it was not so long ago that Tony Kettle had a great deal to say in the pages of the AJ about how wonderful the tower will be and a great addition to the World Heritage Site.

Rather like Richard Murphy's claims about his Edinburgh Haymarket Tower, described by Malcolm Fraser as 'hubris' and refused by the government after UNESCO said it would have a detrimental affect on the adjacent World Heritage Site.

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