JG Ballard (of Crash fame. Not the Academy Award-winning movie, but the postmodern novel) gives a brilliant critique of the brutalism of modernist architecture in this Guardian article (via Johndan's datacloud).
Modernism's attempt to build a better world with the aid of science and technology now seems almost heroic. Bertolt Brecht, no fan of modernism, remarked that the mud, blood and carnage of the first world war trenches left its survivors longing for a future that resembled a white-tiled bathroom.
I kind of wonder if we aren't in a similar utopian moment that longs for the empty luminousness of a Thomas Kinkade painting.
Quick note--I used to live in the "the ziggurat residential blocks at the University of East Anglia" in the picture above when I attended UEA in the early 90s. The insides are as stark as the outside. The glorified cot that I slept on was wedged next to a radiator and a concrete block wall. Unless you were VERY careful, you would rip skin off every time your hand or elbow brushed the rough concrete wall. Funny thing is, I ended up LOVING the room because of the ascetic monkishness it seemed to inspire in my studies.