I was flipping through a book on Notre Dame de Montreal which I had bought my mother (may God bless her and her guilt inducing niceness) and I was struck by a few sentences from the original contract with the architect of that church. Among the specifications, the church had to be able to hold several thousand people, (I forget how many- either three or eight) and it was also to be the "most beautiful church in North America." That was in the contract. I can't say if the contract was fulfilled, but I can say they took a fair run at it.
It called to mind the statement made by Bishop McNally, who commissioned the building of Christ the King in Hamilton, who said "We shall have the finest church in Canada!" Again, I can't say for sure if they were successful (some of those churches in Quebec are awfully beautiful. If he meant in English Canada he has a stronger case.) but they took a fair run at it. It made me wonder how many more churches were built with the intention of being the most beautiful church in the world/country/city/diocese, and how many put that in the contract. It also makes me wonder when and why it stopped.