Like most American families, mine has an immigration story. And as in most such stories, economic opportunity figured prominently among the New World's attractions for my grandparents. Now it looks as if the streets paved with gold--at least for young architects--are in China.

Over the past three years, foreign architects and designers have poured into china, fleeing economic crises at home and pinning their hopes on this country’s explosive growth. it is, after all, a place that mckinsey & company predicts will build 50,000 skyscrapers in the next two decades, the equivalent of 10 new yorks. mad’s staff consisted almost entirely of mainland chinese when [american architect daniel] gillen arrived in mid-2009; today, nearly half of his 50 colleagues are foreigners, with designers from holland, germany, belgium, spain, colombia, japan and thailand. “the economic crisis,” gillen says, “is a heavy factor in everybody’s thought process.”