Originally Posted by mhays
Many architects (the "fashion forward" ones) want to prove themselves. And they have an intellectual distaste, related to ego, for buildings that are "derivative," i.e. borrow from the past. It's the same as not liking certain jeans because they came out last year.
Meanwhile, the rest of us mostly want buildings to be comfortable and fit well with their surroundings, not caring at all about the architect's feeling of self-worth... Levis are just as good as always. (Not the best analogy...I'm not suggesting uniformity.)
That's not why architects don't "borrow from the past" (I would like to point out though that all respectable architects have a knowledge of buildings from throughout history. Buildings of today are informed by buildings from the past, even though they're not being directly copied. Instead what made those buildings good (light, proportion, space, materials, etc.) are understood in a more essential way).
Architects don't copy buildings from the past because the past is a different time. The buildings in the past were a culmination of all of the cultural and technological and economic forces from their day. Those forces are different today so it's natural that buildings will also be different. At least that's one reason. Different people might have different reasons. But whatever the reason, that kind of blind copying has been considered bad for over 100 years.
The fashion analogy is probably better suited for non-architects, because their opinions about architecture are shallow (only about "styles" architecture is so much more than that) and volatile. In less than 10 years (imagine from now to 2002) the public went from liking art deco + the revivals, to wanting to demolish all that and build modern buildings. Those were intense years, so it's understandable. But among the "architectural elite" modernism had been evolving organically since the 1800s.
But what's more important than "who and why" is that we learn from history and protect buildings, because they will certainly be treasured by everyone in the future.