A friend of mine who teaches urban design once said to me (in paraphrase):
A hundred years ago, we were a poor country, and we didn't have any of the building technology we have now — and we built glorious buildings. Now we're the richest country that ever was, we have technologies that were unimaginable even twenty years ago, and we put City Hall in a tilt-up.By contrast, we have Adolf Loos writing in 1906 that "The evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects."
And we know which way of thinking won. But if we're aiming at emotional resonance among a broad population, some degree of storytelling will be crucial. Expediency is one kind of story (and one that we can read pretty well). Crisp precision is another kind of story, if it's maintained weekly in perpetuity with that same degree of precision; so is the designer's common creed of "creativity," which can easily translate for the rest of us into "what the hell is that?"
People tie the things they see into a lifetime of things they've seen. Nothing is ever encountered fresh; instead, we read it through comparison and association with "like objects" and "context" and our own histories. We put new buildings into an ongoing story (or let those buildings amend our story, if we can figure out a way to make them fit somehow).
So what kind of stories do you want to tell?