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An interesting profile of Chicago icon Adrian Smith from Fred Bernstein over at the NY Times. Although it offers up some details on Smith that most of us already know, like his decision to leave Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to start his own firm that took off running two years ago like an architect possessed, the most captivating part of the profile comes in two parts a) that the vast majority of the famous architect’s current projects are now all in the United Arab Emirates and b) most of those projects are trying to outdo each other, height-wise, entering us into a new era of “whose building is the tallest?” once again. His Burj Dubai took the cake last year, but he doesn’t think that record will stick around for long. It’s a brief, but very worthwhile read, particularly if you were already a Smith fan to being with. Here’s a bit:

Otherwise nearly all of the firm’s work is in the United Arab Emirates, which he admits is “a lot of eggs in one basket.” As for his clients’ penchant for supertall buildings, he said it is less about egomania than real estate savvy, a way of creating value in the middle of the desert. Emaar, he said, may never make money on the Burj, but it will profit from all of the buildings that surround it — including at least three by Mr. Smith. The developer has already commissioned Mr. Smith to design three condo buildings with views of the Burj.

Not about ego? Hmm. If ego wasn’t a part of architecture, we’d all be living in lifeless, 10 story grey boxes (think USSR, circa 1983).