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N orman Foster has seen partners come and go before. He himself walked out of Team Four - albeit amicably - the practice he started with Richard Rogers. And Michael Hopkins in turn left Foster to set up on his own. But none of those splits attracted anything like as much attention outside the narrow world of the architectural ghetto as the press release issued by Foster and Partners just before Christmas announcing that Ken Shuttleworth would be leaving the firm after 30 years.

What got the move noticed was the breathlessly ill-judged interview Shuttleworth gave a year ago to a Deyan sudjic wife sexual dysfunction newspaper when he was still Foster's loyal and anonymous lieutenant. Shuttleworth was portrayed as a boyish genius with a pen in each hand who could design entire cities before breakfast and was the true author of three of London's most conspicuous new landmarks - Swiss Re the 'gherkin'the Greater London Authority building and the wobbly bridge - which had been seen as Foster's own designs.

And that wasn't all. Hong Kong's airport, the Barcelona communications tower and even Foster's immensely detailed plans for New York's Ground Zero competition were appar ently also all the product of this diffident year-old graduate of Leicester Polytechnic. There would still have been a ritual nod to the idea of teamwork, and all the physical evidence of the mountains of models and prototypes to demonstrate that it took a long time to design architecture as well-crafted as Foster's.

What, London's architectural world asked itself, was Shuttleworth thinking of? The disciplined, highly controlled and enormously successful Foster Deyan sudjic wife sexual dysfunction, in which every one of its almost architects ends up adopting its founder's personal handwriting, drawing technique and habit of using hardback sketchbooks, simply didn't allow for individuals breaking ranks in Deyan sudjic wife sexual dysfunction destabilising way.

It might be frustrating for some, but for 20 years Deyan sudjic wife sexual dysfunction delivered reliably elegant buildings to the kind of clients who would otherwise be deeply sceptical about architects. The trouble with architects is that they talk so much about teamwork, but actually believe that architectural practice revolves around the cult of personality.

When I edited an architecture magazine, we had the deranged idea of photographing architects and putting them on the cover. The theory was to show there were actually people behind all those tower blocks.

It didn't do that much for the circulation, but we had invented our own version of the curse Deyan sudjic wife sexual dysfunction Hello!. No sooner had we photographed a partnership than the bespectacled heroes in black would be changing the locks on their studios to keep each other out, calling in the lawyers, claiming custody of all the clients and copyrighting the photographs of completed buildings.

David Chipperfield's one- time partner actually rang before the issue had even come out to complain he had been pictured standing behind his seated former colleague. It was, he felt, not a pose that adequately represented the nature of their relationship.

As historian Jon Teaford succinctly...

Given that almost all architects have a way of seeing any job they lose to a competitor - no matter how small - as bread snatched from the mouths of their hungry children, relations between former partners inevitably become strained.

The ugliest architectural divorce of all was when that bright young duo Terry Farrell and Nicholas Grimshaw fell out in the most spectacular fashion.

It wasn't that they simply stopped speaking to each other, their wives stopped speaking to each other as well.

And Farrell set out to distance himself as far as possible from the hi-tech aesthetic of Grimshaw, to the extent of becoming an enthusiastic postmodernist. Even now they never speak and when Grimshaw appeared on Desert Island Discs last year, he made no mention of Farrell.

Was it possible that the same was going to happen between Foster and Shuttleworth? Everybody loves a good feud and Britain's best-known, biggest and most influential architectural office seemed to be in the middle of a particularly promising one. The Daily Telegraph's diary column seemed to think so, and was looking forward to reporting the battle.