Very tall buildings tend to raise strong passions, with most people instinctively either loving or loathing the proposition that modern cities should express themselves by reaching for the sky. But while Birmingham, somewhat tongue in cheek, refers to its soaring structures as skyscrapers, there is still a long way to go to come anywhere near matching the transatlantic skyline of, say, a New York or Chicago.
Even so, Birmingham is changing and will continue to do so. Beetham Tower, the planned Snow Hill apartments and the city's first five-star hotel, the British Land Tower, all reflect the confidence of developers who are prepared to invest millions of pounds in eye-catching infrastructure.
It should not be forgotten that the driver for all of this began more than 20 years ago with the construction of the NEC, ICC and NIA and the realisation that Birmingham had to diversify from manufacturing and become a more rounded city if it was to prosper in a changing world. It would have seemed unthinkable to most political and business leaders in the 1980s that Birmingham in the first decade of the 21st century would be rivalling London as a centre for professional services and would be in the running to host corporate headquarters, but that is indeed the happy position we find ourselves in today.
Tall buildings, therefore, make a bold statement about a city that knows it is going places, assuming of course that the towering office and apartment blocks are of the highest design quality and are there to meet a proven market need. The city council's insistence on outstanding architecture is at last paying dividends, as artists' impressions of the V Building and British Land Tower clearly demonstrate, and it is pleasing to see that the local authority is determined not to repeat mistakes of the past.
While the potential is there to extend the business core of the city centre beyond what remains of the inner ring road concrete collar, the possibility of recession is very much the elephant in the room.
No one wants to be cast as a doom-monger, but a serious downturn in the economy might well delay or even put paid to some of Birmingham's more ambitious office and residential projects.
If developers are having second thoughts, it would be better to come clean now than to risk public disappointment when much-promised grand schemes fail to materialise.