China's Global Beacon

The Century Giant Lamp Tower provides an architectural icon for a new China

In our age of roving capital and global tourism, cities yearn to distinguish themselves as places to visit and invest in. For some that means excavating a rich past or tapping valued qualities of landscape and geography. Others are fortunate enough to possess an iconic architectural symbol—the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. For the upstart towns in the sprawling Pearl River Delta of southern China, identity often comes by way of local industries. Xiaolan is known for locks, Shaxiis the casual garment city, and Dafen, the oil-painting village, produces much of the world’s knockoff art. Guzhen, a town in the northwest section of booming Zhongshan City, is the lighting capital of China. Having flooded the global home-improvement market with inexpensive fixtures, Guzhen decided to build itself an appropriately mighty icon.

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