Between Angry Mass Emails, CEO Facing Possible Jail Time and School District Lawsuits, Troubles Continue for Architecture Firm RMJM

More drama in the ongoing saga at one of the largest architecture firms in the world, the Edinburgh-based RMJM. As we’d previously reported, this past fall, with news of layoffs and staff exits, marked the start of what now seems like a snowball effect, with more information coming out every few weeks about how rocky things are at the company. Late last week, it was reported that RMJM had suspended the principal architect at their Hong Kong office, the company citing her “bizarre, irrational behavior.” In turn, the architect, Catherine Siu, not only sent off a damning, company-wide email, but also filed a complaint with Hong Kong’s department of labor, claiming that none of the employees at the company had been paid, nor any of its vendors. While RMJM denies any of this is true and is attempting to discredit Siu’s statements in talking to the press and company-wide emails of their own, her words seem a bit more believable when you consider that, as The Scotsman reports, “about 80 workers are understood to have left the Hong Kong office over the past year amid claims of unpaid wages.” You’ll note that the firm is also being sued by its American wing, Hillier, over the exact same issue. Should Hong Kong’s department of labor find the company at fault, they would be forced to pay a fine and what’s more, the CEO of RMJM, Peter Morrison, could face up to three years in jail, the punishment there for non-payment of wages. And speaking of Hillier, while they’re busy fighting their parent company to get the millions they say are owed to them, they’ve now found themselves facing a nearly-$30 million dollar lawsuit by New Jersey’s Princeton Regional School District over the building of a high school. The district claims that “the plans were flawed and contained numerous errors and omissions that proved costly.” We’re assuming that this isn’t the sort of thing Hillier is loving dealing with at the moment, piled on top of everything else going on. In the end, with all of this negative RMJM news coming down the pike, we think back to this great profile of Peter Morrison from 2007, a year after the then-33 year old stepped in as CEO. The overall message of the piece, and perhaps could be read into with regard to this latest series of issues, can all be summed up in its headline: “Scotland’s accidental architect.”