A row over whether the Central Library should be preserved as a brilliant example of 1970s civic design has prompted discussion about exactly what, if anything, is worth preserving.
John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, rejected a plea by the 20th Century Society to save the library, in Chamberlain Square, from demolition.
However, it is by no means unusual for contemporary buildings to be given listed status, thereby saving them for future generations to enjoy.
The Rotunda, in Birmingham city centre, is grade two listed as is the New Street station signal box.
All of which prompts one leading Birmingham property surveyor to say that more attention should be paid to conservation. Richard Budd, of Phoenix Beard, is keen on city centre regeneration, but he warns against throwing away good buildings with the bad.
He said: "People are often surprised to know the Rotunda is listed. Although it is not a traditional image of beauty, it represents a rare example of 1960s architecture and that is why it has this special status."
Mr Budd has several examples of landmark buildings he believes should be given listed status.
These include the NEC Arena, Costa Coffee in Brindleyplace, the Equipoint office building on the A45 in Yardley and Walsall Bus Station.
He also wants the new Selfridges store in the Bullring to be listed, even though construction work is still taking place.
"These are all outstanding examples of buildings of their period and type," Mr Budd tells Business Property Review.
"Renaissances are great for any city but it is important that if we get rid of the old, we don't lose the good as well. Historic buildings are powerful reminders of how we used to work and they play an important part in our sense of regional identity.
"Taking on a listed building for either commercial or residential use is often the best way to protect its long-term interests."
By listing a property, Whitehall ensures that important buildings must be maintained and kept in good condition. "Most people don't understand that no matter what the age of a building, it can still be lost if it's not in use or in poor condition," says Mr Budd.
"For instance, if St Martin's, the parish church of Birmingham, wasn't an active church or it had been in dangerous repair, it could have been demolished as part of the Bullring development. Luckily, the church was very well supported and the developers realised the extra cultural dimension it brings to the Bullring."
Local authorities often object to buildings being listed because they fear a preservation order will make regeneration impossible.
Mr Budd says: "Just because a building is listed, it doesn't mean it is untouchable. Some requirements have recently been relaxed for listed properties, for instance, new windows need not have double or triple glazed windows as newer property must.
"You can change windows and doors, remove certain surfaces and features or put in new ones. The only proviso is the appropriate planning consents, which usually means the changes are in keeping with the original architecture, although this does not always preclude the use of a modern approach."