Holy­rood Par­lia­ment is just one of many high-pro­file de­signs

The Scotsman - - News - Jane Bradley

THE phrase is like fin­ger­nails scrap­ing down a black­board for rmjm’s se­nior man­age­ment, but there is lit­tle ques­tion that rmjm will go down in his­tory as the firm “be­hind the scot­tish Par­lia­ment”.

De­signed in part­ner­ship with span­ish ar­chi­tect En­ric mi­ralles, the as­tro­nom­i­cally over-bud­get Holy­rood build­ing may not be rmjm’s most con­tro­ver­sial project – its Gazprom Tower in st Peters­burg is a con­tender for that ti­tle – but it is with­out doubt the most high-pro­file.

While many of its con­tracts are bread-and-but­ter – a school de­sign here and a hos­pi­tal project there – many of rmjm’s ma­jor works have been a talk­ing point for ar­chi­tects across the globe.

In 2001, rmjm ar­chi­tect Tony Ket­tle cre­ated the de­sign for one of rmjm’s most iconic scot­tish projects with the help of his son’s Lego bricks. The re­sult was a 35m-high ro­tat­ing boat lift con­nect­ing the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.

mr Ket­tle was also the brains be­hind the new head­quar­ters for rus­sian oil firm Gazprom, in st Peters­burg. The 394mhigh tower hit con­tro­versy at the de­sign com­pe­ti­tion for the project, when three of the four ar­chi­tects on the judg­ing panel – namely Nor­man Fos­ter, rafael Viñoly and Kisho Kurokawa – quit, amid claims that they op­posed all of the short­listed de­signs be­cause of their height.

rmjm’s de­sign – dubbed “ kuku­ruz­ina” (the corn­cob) by rus­sian crit­ics – was even­tu­ally cho­sen, but has met with op­po­si­tion from world her­itage body Unesco, which warned that the struc­ture could threaten the his­toric city’s World Her­itage sta­tus.

The com­pany has openly ad­mit­ted that it is strug­gling to find work in the UK fol­low­ing a re­ces­sion which dealt a se­ri­ous blow to the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

Last year, it was forced to lay off 60 staff, in­clud­ing a num­ber at its Ed­in­burgh head­quar­ters, opt­ing in­stead to fo­cus on win­ning work in emerg­ing mar­kets in the mid­dle East and rus­sia.

Ear­lier this year, rmjm an­nounced it was to open a project of­fice in Vladi­vo­s­tock, in the far east of rus­sia, to cre­ate a master­plan for a new gam­bling zone out­side the city. It last week re­vealed it is to launch its new­est base – in Bahrain – cre­at­ing its 17th of­fice world­wide.

Ar­chi­tects from the firm cre­ated the iconic “Wa­ter Cube” aquat­ics cen­tre project for the Bei­jing Olympic Games and are also work­ing on build­ings for the forth­com­ing Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow.

Pic­ture: Getty

RMJM’s Cap­i­tal Gate ‘lean­ing tower’ in Abu Dhabi

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