This month’s Architectural Record takes an in-depth look at the Burj Khalifa, the record-shattering, mixed-use Dubai skyscraper by Chicago architect Adrian Smith and his former colleagues at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Also featured: CityCenter, the massive Las Vegas project that includes two tilting condominium towers by Chicago’s Helmut Jahn and his firm Murphy/Jahn.

These mega-projects share something besides their desert location: They started in boom times and finished after the big bust, raising questions of how we should evaluate them.

Here’s a link to the Record Web page that will take you to a package of stories, among them critiques of both projects (I wrote the essay on the Burj Khalifa) as well as features on the architectural technology of the Burj and the lighting of the Burj and CityCenter. The package is aptly titled “Sand Castles,” which is precisely what Adrian Smith used to build on Pacific Coast beaches when he was growing up in San Clemente, Calif.