Our American cities are pantheons to the International style in architecture: great glass boxes stretching skywards; verticality accentuated by thin ribs like pinstripes. It is the style that emerged in the 30s and ate skylines in the 40s and 50s (and beyond).

Here, a student of architecture of the past 50 years would gaze into a textbook. Cement facades overtake glass and steel adding textures and colors to the cityscape.

The skyline is riddled with cranes, sweeping high, and reconstructing the city in the image of the present, which is also the image of the hoped-for future.

The China Hotel’s walls are incised with illustrations, and those drawings are repeated on the 18 story towers flanking the central structure of the building. The pictures tell the story, taken from fairy tale and history, of princes and princesses and caravans. It is the story of trade, which is the master plot of Guangzhou.

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