Days after Catherine Siu, a Hong Kong–based principal at international architecture giant RMJM, fired off an angry e-mail to the firm’s top leadership complaining of unpaid salaries and inept management ( link; registration required), ill feeling against Peter and Sir Fraser Morrison—the father-and-son Scottish businessmen who run the embattled firm—has boiled over in the United States as well.

An architect in RMJM’s Princeton, N.J., office, resigned from the firm late last week, e-mailing CEO Peter Morrison and other leaders of the firm’s U.S. practice to say that their business decisions have had “a severe negative impact on the families of your [firm’s] employees.” ARCHITECT has obtained a copy of the e-mail, pasted below.

The firm’s alleged problems meeting payroll come after a tumultuous period during which many senior staff members departed. Late last year, former employees of Hillier Architecture, the U.S. firm that RMJM acquired in 2007, sued the parent company to reclaim $664,000 of a promised $1.5 million cash bonus that the plaintiffs say has not been paid. The lawsuit also charged RMJM with stripping the U.S. firm’s assets, a charge that an RMJM spokesman called “outrageous” in January.


From: XXXXXXXXXX Sent: Fri 04/03/2011 11:55 PM
To: Morrison, Peter
Cc: Bailes, Richard; Morrison, Sir Fraser; Vildostegui, Luis; Warren, Jean
Subject: RE: Internal Announcement


It is unfortunate that the news from Hong Kong has spread, however the people that generate your cash flow have long suffered in silence.

The Practice of Architecture is not a game to us, it is a Profession and a chosen career. I offer a simple cash flow diagram for future reference...

1. Win clients trust and in turn promise to deliver quality design and consultant services such as structural and mechanical engineering in return.

2. Pay the design team and consultants when we receive payment from the Client.

3. Service the project through construction to foster solid relationships for future endeavors (repeat clients.)

RMJM has failed in all three of the above. The fact that you have chosen to delay payroll, 401k and consultant payments to the US offices again after the recent Hong Kong fallout shows that you continuously do not value your US clients or employees. This pattern is destined to failure, and you should know that your decisions have had a severe negative impact on the families of your employees.