Some of Birmingham's newest buildings are a throwback to the grim 1960s, two top property experts have warned.
Malcolm Gloster, regional senior director for GVA Grimley's Birmingham office, and his imminent successor Ian Stringer, say the jury is out on whether today's architecture is good enough for the city's ambitions.
They voiced their concern as a handover this spring will see Mr Gloster step down after 10 years in the role.
Mr Gloster said opinions on current architectural standards were varied and highly subjective.
Critics thought many of the new buildings going up were "bland and grey" while enthusiasts saw them as "angular and clean".
But he cautioned: "Some are like the 60s - a question of 'haven't we been here before'."
Mr Stringer agreed: "There is an element of the 60s in some of the buildings."
But both stressed there were exciting projects such as the redevelopment of Snow Hill, and indeed not all 60s developments were bad - Alpha Tower, for example, had stood the test of time.
However, Mr Stringer pointed to "very mixed views" on the Richardson-developed, No 1 Colmore Row.
Some people, he said, saw it as following in the footsteps of Paradise Circus - one of the schemes the city council is desperate to bulldoze.
Both men though say today's quality standards are far superior whatever anyone may say about building style.
Their comments came amidst widespread concern about how the property downturn might impact on Birmingham.
There was only one major such deal in the three months to the end of 2007 - Catalyst European Property Fund's acquisition of Alpha Tower from Arena Central Developments, a joint venture between Miller Developments and Bridgehouse Capital, for £45.2 million.
"That was the only big deal of any significance," said Mr Stringer, "and there is no sign that the market is likely to change at the moment."
He pointed out that investment transactions tended to generate a lot of bolt-on work such as valuations, surveys, property management and indeed spin-off business for Birmingham's lawyers and accountants.
Mr Stringer said what was difficult to call was whether the slowdown would last two to three months or six to nine months.
If it was for the former then the sector could by and large get by as a result of "backfilling with other work".
He pointed out, for example, that the office market in Birmingham remained strong, with some big deals on the cards this year, particularly in financial services.
Indeed, if some of the major ones proceeded then it could be a "very buoyant" year for the sector.
Elements of property agents' work was also counter-cyclical, he noted, citing how Grim-ley's corporate recovery team, which advises lenders on the security of their investments, was seeing growing business.
And planning, regeneration and consultancy was likely to be relatively unaffected, particularly as Birmingham's masterplan developed.
"There is a lot of public money going into the re-use of brownfield land," he pointed out. The private sector too was continuing to set up schemes for the future, notwithstanding current conditions.
"There is more direction from the city council about how we need to deal with big sites," he noted. "It is a lot more joined up.
"Our view is that if we can get over this investment blockage it will be a steady as she goes scenario - hopefully."
But even a falling market was better than a stagnant one. "The worst thing is if everything stops," he said.