When you get the urge to send an email to the entire company the best advice is usually to lie down.
Unfortunately for the boss of one of the world’s leading architects’ practices, the impulse to hit send has caused fresh embarrassment months after he advocated the end of all social housing.
“Hey, shit happens . . . and lessons are learned! Politics and professional service don’t mix,” Patrik Schumacher wrote at five minutes to midnight to everybody at Zaha Hadid Architects.
The design partner and succesor of Dame Zaha, who died last March, was responding to the firm’s decision not to back his “end social housing speech”.
At a conference in Germany last November, Mr Schumacher, 55, claimed that only free-market economics could provide “housing for everyone”.
So radical were his proposals, such as concreting over Hyde Park, privatising London’s public squares, and expelling council tenants to free up “precious” social housing for the likes of his own staff, that Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called him “just plain wrong”.
His comments about overseas investors buying up property, noting that however short their visits “they throw some key parties”, and about “free-riding” council tenants shocked his audience of designers and developers and led to him being branded the Donald Trump of the profession.
A swift climb-down followed, with an open letter sent on behalf of his practice saying that the speech did not reflect the principles of Hadid. “Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past — and will not be our future,” the letter states.
Mr Schumacher, who has worked at the firm since 1988, responded to the letter with a rambling late-night email, entitled “all cool!!!” and claimed that Roger Howie, his PR man, had exceeded his authority by sending out the statement.
“Don’t worry, I am in charge and won’t let you down,” he wrote. “Roger unfortunately temporarily drowned in the quicksands of the media spin and issued a statement which had nobody’s endorsement except his very own.”
In the email leaked to The Architects’ Journal, Mr Schumacher laughs off rumours that he is leaving, “about to ‘stress test my libertarian ideology’. Hahahaha!!! Hey, there is at least still some humour out there” but apologises that staff had to face protests from anarchists as a result of a “phantasmagoric controversy that I regretfully enflamed with embarrassing innocence”.
There were protests outside his office after his speech in Berlin. “I hope the protest is peaceful! In any case please be careful and avoid confrontation — as broken teeth or similar calamities are to be avoided by all means,” he wrote.
“Patrik has the full support of everyone at ZHA,” Davide Giordano, a company spokesman, said.