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Portcullis House attracts big crowd despite security fears

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Michael Hopkins & Partners' Portcullis House, one of seven buildings short-listed for the AJsponsored Stirling Prize, proved to be the biggest draw ever at last weekend's London Open House event. The building, opened in spite of police advice, attracted 15,000 visitors. The previous record-holder was the Foreign Office, which last year was visited by 14,000 people.

Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks in the US forced the closure of 15 high-profile venues, including all other government buildings, embassies and broadcasting premises.

But Victoria Thornton, director of the charity running the programme, said the event was a success in spite of the closures: 'The advantage was that it encouraged understanding of smaller buildings. People found out a lot more and visited more venues. In a way it was a real bonus.'

She added that visitors gave Portcullis House an almost universal thumbs-up: 'A lot of people came in especially to see Portcullis House. They really liked it. You didn't hear anybody grumbling on the way out.'

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