Mark Lamster makes some excellent points but just misses the single issue that does drive the creation of crappy architecture. For private development, a project’s economic viability is determined by how much investment capital (or at what terms) the pro-forma attracts. From what I understand, the quality of design will be referenced in a very abstract manner, if at all. The community, social and environmental impacts that determine a project’s success over time and in the eyes of the public are not explicitly valued. This begets the race to the bottom of code and zoning compliance that we see every day. So long as that remains the case, you can expect crappy architecture to continue to flourish.