The Bullring shopping area has been praised as one of the most imaginative planning schemes in the country.
The Selfridges building was described as "brashly exciting"
English Heritage has included the centre in Birmingham among the 30 best schemes in its book Shared Interest.
The £500m Bullring, which was completed in 2003, is described as being part of Birmingham's "famous architectural rebirth" in the past two decades.
English Heritage said the Selfridges building was "brashly exciting" and St Martin's Church was better presented.
Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said the book highlighted the best schemes that used a new way of working which it called "constructive conservation".
The Bullring was built at a cost of more than £500m
"They are uniting the finest old and new architecture to create schemes that secure the future of our most valuable buildings and improve quality of life for the people who live and work nearby," he said.
The Bullring is credited with reconnecting areas of the city centre in the book.
It reads: "The Grade II listed St Martin's church is once again not just a landmark but a striking contributor to the city centre's attractions.
"The rebuilt Bullring is now dominated by the brashly exciting Selfridges building. Unlike its predecessor, this building captures the imagination.
"It has become synonymous with Birmingham itself."
Other schemes praised by English Heritage included the Royal William Yard in Plymouth, Explore@Bristol, Waterloo Pavilions in Blackburn, Millennium Place in Durham, The Forum in Norwich, and Speke Airport, Merseyside.