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The local elections didn't stop Manchester's architectural scene from hosting a raft of boozefuelled parties last Thursday.

Nor did it deter the city's inimitable chief executive Howard Bernstein from turning up for champers at the official opening of HKR's new(-ish) Manchester office. Elsewhere, PRP filled the Manchester Art Gallery with people interested in sustainable things, and the city's society of architects (the MSA) dished out gongs - mainly to Stephenson Bell - as people came close to fainting in the oven-like Cube. Meanwhile, the local newspapers turned their attention to Ian Simpson who was pictured hugging trees in the penthouse of the recently topped-out Beetham Tower.

The 'King of Manchester' has had mature olive and lemon trees lifted up to his new home, perched high above his architectural empire. Yet Astragal has learned that the unusual latticework louvres, which rise over his palace, hum noisily in high winds. It's tough at the top.

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