According to the American Conservative, beautiful churches are back. See the article here.
I'm not so optimistic, and for a couple reasons. First, the article touches on mainly Catholic churches. Though there certainly is a movement towards the construction of beautiful Catholic churches, the traditionalists have to fight against the movement to construct more modern and post-modern structures (like the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels). There's no telling which side will win, and over the last 50 years, beautiful churches have lost to sterile and modern designs.
Second, what of the evangelical community? I challenge you to find me a beautiful mega-church. It's not that the size of those churches that prohibits beautiful architecture. It's also the theology of those churches. Can you imagine Joel Osteen's vision of a beautiful church? It'd be a mix of florescent lights and video screens with an alter at every exit to the almighty dollar. We've already seen one mega-pastor's vision (which probably didn't include bankruptcy...) and it wrought upon us the Crystal Cathedral, a cavernous and angular mess without a face and with poor proportions. More fitting for the set of Superman 2 than for Southern California.
Even supposed traditional churches don't want to be bothered with good traditional architecture. See, for example, Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. It's a old warehouse with pillars plastered to the front. But when you get inside, it's a theater. Traditional facade, modern interior. No beauty nowhere.
But the evangelical mega-churches aren't the only problem. Small churches also mock the need for architectural decency, instead opting for cheap materials and steel buildings. (I don't buy the excuse that churches can't afford anything else... we're far richer in 2012 than we were in 1812.)
Without any group leading the charge for responsible church architecture, the modern architects gain power and create lifeless spaces.
See, for example, Louis Kahn's First Unitary Church. The imposing ceiling with remotely controlled turrets. The rectangles of color to give life to the dull interior. What does this building say about God, and what does this building say about Christianity? Nothing good, that's what.
So then, what's the solution? I can only think of one thing, and it's to move forward by looking backward. Back to architecture that took into consideration Christian theology instead of costs and comfort. (Yeah, costs will always be a factor. But they shouldn't be the sole factor.) Back to architecture that reflected the beauty of God and the beauty of Christianity.
Back to something like this: