Iconic skyscrapers, especially those that strive for the fleeting title of “world’s tallest building,” are rarely the progeny of cold logic. Their backers invariably are motivated by ambition and ego. The architect does not control whether or where such behemoths are built. He or she can only ensure that they are proud and soaring things, not Frankenstein-esque, XXL-size monstrosities. Such is the considerable achievement of Adrian Smith, FAIA, and his former colleagues at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in the gargantuan yet persuasive Burj Khalifa, which rises half a mile above the desert in the once-unstoppable, now-humbled Persian Gulf playground of Dubai.