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RMJM and Stephen Lawrence Trust Launch Joint Initiative to Promote New Architectural Talent

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July 22 2008

RMJM is joining forces with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to run a three year initiative aimed at encouraging more people from under-represented groups in the UK into architecture to combat a predicted global shortage of architects.

In addition, the scheme is aimed at ensuring diversity in an industry dominated by the white middle-class, after RIBA research concluded that only 2% of professional practising architects in the UK are from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds and that the majority of young Black and ethnic minority people with the aptitude to become good architects still see it as an “unattainable profession”. 

This initiative aimed at Black and ethnic minorities will include the delivery of architectural workshops held in “underground” venues in Britain’s inner cities to engage with as many young people as possible.

The Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “I share your aims – by investing in our young people we can strengthen our communities and strengthen Britain, and most fundamentally, show that the opportunity and support to develop young people’s talents must be open not just to some but to all.”

The Stephen Lawrence Centre, managed by the Trust, opened in February this year with the aim of increasing the number of young people who pursue a career in urban design, the built environment and the architectural professions.

Lawrence, who was murdered in April 1993, had ambitions to become an architect.

Peter Morrison, RMJM Chief Executive, said that the most direct impact could be felt from the “inside out” if those living in such communities learn about the built environment and, where talent exists, to pursue a career in architecture.

The ‘Architecture for Everyone’ campaign will appoint a full time project manager to coordinate workshops, which will be held in informal environments such as youth centres, music and club venues. RMJM senior architects – who are responsible for designing some of the world’s most high profile buildings – will give their time to help run the workshops and share their expertise.

RMJM’s Peter Morrison said: “This is much more than a worthy initiative, it’s got a commercial and cultural imperative. There’s going to be a global boom in the construction industry and, if we don’t take action now, we will not have sufficient architects to service demand and those buildings we do design will be built by white, middle class architects. We will be all the poorer as a nation for this lack of diversity.”

Doreen Lawrence OBE, mother of Stephen, added: “While Stephen was tragically prevented from fulfilling his dream of becoming an architect, this initiative will empower many other young people to re-discover and fulfill their dreams. By learning from some of the world’s leading architects who work for a company comprising many nationalities and cultures, some of our best young talent from throughout the UK will be inspired, benefit from practical support and have a real chance of becoming the urban designers of the future.”

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