Shenyang last held a global profile in the late 1600s, when the invading Manchu emperors briefly made it China’s capital.
More than 400 years later, city planners are hoping architecture will finally put this chilly industrial town back on the map—despite other recent grand projects regarded by many locals as lemons.
Shenyang will soon be home to the Pearl of the North, a 111-floor office tower that will, briefly, be the seventh-largest in the world, dwarfing One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the U.S.
To the less charitable, the building will stand as an 1,863-foot mixed metaphor. At its pinnacle, a giant sphere, representing a pearl, will sit, glowing gold at night. That light is meant to evoke molten steel in a nod to Shenyang’s rust-belt heritage. ….