From The Washington Post:
We can live without art, but we can't live without architecture. At the most basic level we need enclosure — from the rain and the cold and the heat. But we also need safe, healthy places in which to worship, work, learn, rest.
Architectural theorists used to try to distinguish architecture from mere building. The British critic John Ruskin famously identified architecture with decoration or, as he said, whatever was “useless” to the building. Then modernists came along and declared that ornament was a crime and that architecture was nothing more nor less than the perfect expression of its utility. In the past few decades the pendulum has swung back toward an ideal of excess, as celebrity architects follow the money across the globe and build signature works in Dallas or Beijing or Berlin. With new technologies of construction and digital means of design, along with a sufficient budget, these architects can create buildings that look like robots or waves or almost anything, ever increasing the gulf between their rare confections and the mere buildings in which you or I spend most of our lives.