Holyrood Parliament is just one of many high-profile designs
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.
RMJM’s Capital Gate ‘leaning tower’ in Abu Dhabi