How can some of the essential principles of architecture be conveyed to a non-architect audience? As usual, towers of ilium has a solution:
Visible vs. invisible design--Modern design challenges have less to do with the finish surfaces that people see. Air conditioning, support spaces, building envelopes, etc...are more important than paint colors.
Embodied energy vs. operating energy. Can also be described as up-front costs vs. general performance. Operation entails a greater resource commitment.
Gain vs. Enclosure dominated buildings. It's a complicated issue that mechanical engineers deal with, but more people, especially architects, should be aware of it.
LEED vs. reality. Unless you're moving into a cave, the construction of a building entails the use of toxic products. Longevity, performance, initial toxicity, and disposal toxicity implies a balancing act. When in doubt, live in the cave.