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Internal affairs

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What is going on at Foster and Partners? The inevitable rumourmill product doing the rounds of architects' Christmas parties includes why exactly Ken Shuttleworth is leaving after 30 years, during which time the firm has joined the top half-dozen in the premier league of international practices. Shuttleworth says the parting is amicable and there seems no reason to doubt this; he is leaving to consider future options, essentially whether to work for another big firm (cf Robin Partington, who left Foster's to become design supremo at Hamilton Associates), or to set up on his own. At 51 he is young enough to do it. Another interesting story about the practice concerns Norman Foster himself, and more specifically the house in the south of France that he has had designed by the firm.The house is magnificent and no expense spared, I am told, but has been hit by a rather significant hitch: the boss was unhappy about aspects of the design, leading to delays and consequent impact on the Fosters' holiday arrangements.

Far-fetched as it may sound, this may result in Norman suing his own firm for compensation!

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