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Congratulations to Norman Foster, whose practice, we understand, may be worth £500 million to investors.

How times have changed.

Astragal remembers fielding a call well over a decade ago from a business that had been asked to invest in the Battersea property that houses Foster's office and home: 'Who is this Norman Foster?' was the opening gambit. When Astragal explained that he was one of the UK's most prestigious architects his interlocutor was singularly unimpressed. He'd been looking at the balance sheet he said, and Foster looked like pretty small fry. No bigger than a medium-sized Midlands car-parts manufacturer. How times have changed, both for Foster and for the Midlands motor industry.

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