Whenever I see bad architecture, I think of this excellent article:
The Architect Has No Clothes
The authors describe research showing that the architecture profession is wildly out of touch with how their buildings are used and perceived by regular (un-architecturally-educated) people.
It's a long article, so here's some of the points that hit me:
"Instead of a contextual world of harmonious geometric relationships and connectedness, architects tend to see a world of objects set apart from their contexts, with distinctive, attention-getting qualities.... Gifford et al. (2002)... noted that 'architects did not merely disagree with laypersons about the aesthetic qualities of buildings, they were unable to predict how laypersons would assess buildings, even when they were explicitly asked to do so.' The researchers traced this disagreement to well-known cognitive differences in the two populations.... Architects do not see how certain designs disconnect and isolate people and create hostile environments that cannot be shared"!
"We hasten to add that we do not use this observation to criticize architects as a group. Rather, we raise it as a cautionary alert. Every profession suffers from its own narrow perspective--its tendency to behave like the carpenter with a hammer, who sees every problem as a nail. Architects may only have a particularly strong variety of this narrowed view."
After the German Bauhaus school in the 1920's and 1930's, which emphasized cheap, functional, and minimalist designs, architecture students began to be praised for taking apart a space or an object and reconstructing it using its foundational parts (cubes, planes, cylinders, repeated rectangles, etc.). "Anything that resembles the complexity of traditional architecture is automatically judged negatively (its meaning is supposedly associated with reactionary or philistine culture) and it is rejected without any reflection." Architects now dismiss natural human responses to their work as being "unsophisticated" or uneducated.
Sad that they look on old ornate artistic designs as "philistine."