Thursday24 July 2014

RMJM star architect exits firm

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Tony Kettle resigns troubled practice after two decades

RMJM has been hit with its most significant departure yet with news that architect Tony Kettle has quit the firm after 23 years in order to set up a new practice.

BD understands that Kettle, who is RMJM’s international design principal and based in Edinburgh, only handed his notice in at the beginning of the week. His departure comes just a few weeks after his former right-hand man Colin Bone, the managing principal at the group’s European studio, quit at the beginning of the month.

Kettle joined RMJM in 1989 and as well as the award-winning Falkirk Wheel, his key projects have included the practices’s tallest building — the Okhta Tower in St Petersburg — better known as the Gazprom tower.

He first came to know Fraser Morrison, now RMJM chairman, when the pair worked together on the Falkirk Wheel which was built by Morrison’s former firm Morrison Construction. The rotating boat lift opened in 2002.

The Englishman has also been working on RMJM’s £262 million scheme to design segment 3 of the United Terminal at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow — the country’s largest airport — as well as tower schemes in Bahrain.

One source said: “Tony is RMJM, he’s a major player. He’s the man without a shadow of a doubt. I’m sure a number of clients are working with RMJM because of him and I wouldn’t be surprised if some follow him. He’s probably the most valuable person in the business.”

Kettle’s former colleague Paul Stallan, who worked with Kettle on both the Scottish Parliament as well as and the Falkirk Wheel,has decided to set up a new business with another ex-RMJM staffer Alistair Brand.

The pair, who left within days of each other in January, have resurfaced to form Glasgow-based Stallan-Brand Architecture & Design.

Stallan, who has won RIBA and RIAS design awards for his work at RMJM, and Brand are looking at targeting work in New York and London and have already picked up a couple of projects.

RMJM, which this week parted company with its PR agency of three years, Big Partnership, declined to comment.



Readers' comments (18)

  • How many "Star" architects are there at RMJM? Is this an official job title in the RMJM structure, rebrand as Constellation Architects surely.

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  • I can only say this:

    Having worked directly for Tony for over 6 years as the model maker (until March this year), I can without a doubt say he was the best thing about RMJM, he was Mr. RMJM. A lot of you have misguieded opinions (I'm looking at you Big John T) but I know the man and he was stifled at RMJM.

    He did EVERYTHING he could to get them back on track, to listen, to change their ways but there comes a point where you're talking to brick walls (or brick heads maybe?)

    This is absolutely fantastic news, in all respects.

    Good luck TK.

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  • Another sad day for RMJM, good luck with the new adventure Tony, expect you to be a major player in the market very shortly.

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  • Mike Duriez

    Anyone who wants to leave RMJM and set up on their own is a "Star Architect". Indeed, everyone who is an architect is a "Star Architect".

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  • Uhhh, Im sick of hearing of RMJM. BD, please, focus on some exciting stories out there other than pointing out the seemingly poor managment of one practice.

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  • The leak can only concentrate on the bad side of RMJM, because not in the know of all the good work probably. But can't agree more Andrew Davies...BD is getting worse by the day - poor, rubbish, incorrect articles all over the place..

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  • So what's incorrect about this article then, Big John T?

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  • Knowing him personally, Tony is (was) a credit to RMJM. Shame the firm is no longer a credit to the profession.
    On a more serious note, we are owed a large amount of money by RMJM. Curious to know, individuals and ex-employees aside, are there any other companies out there in the UK that are in a similar position? Please do respond if there are, send me a message, or post on here.
    Thanks for any help; and yes though BD should concentrate on more interesting matters to do with the profession, I for one am grateful that these stories help me keep up with the latest happenings at this firm, the only Debtor on our Balance Sheet!!!

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  • Rumpy Stumpy

    I am curious - any more stars left? Folks at RMJM were very good but I don't remember wearing shades all the time (to save me from the starry glares that is!) Good luck Tony.

    Come on Peter, give up already! A bit like the Syrian president - wake up and smell the whatever you have your head stuck in. Oh and Big John T - bite me!

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  • i2hellfire

    big john t, the muhammad saeed al-sahhaf of architectural news.

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