Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.
Aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, and it depends upon the prevailing tastes of the time. A building's functionality, or fitness, is a matter of how well it accommodates the purposes for which it was built. Its structural integrity means soundness - will the building last over time? Historically speaking aesthetics has usually trumped fitness as the overriding factor in architectural design. Classical architecture was preoccupied with articulating features on walls and facades. Modern architecture is equally concerned with aesthetic formalities, such as form following function.
An open floor plan leaves more room for light, a good flow of energy through the home, and easier access for many people. When researching modern home plans, a lot of people choose open floor plans in the contemporary style just for the sake of sheer convenience. When they have small children, it is easier to see across the home and make sure that their children are safe without having to constantly be in the same room. There are plenty of reasons for choosing a floor plan that is open, but this is actually a popular reason.
A few questions you will need to answer will include: how many bedrooms, whether or not to have a family room, if a separate study room is valuable, and if internal garage access will be important. Plans come in both 2D and 3D versions for you to review before building begins. You will want to go over these with a fine toothed comb, as changes are much easier to make on the blue prints then once actually constructed on the ground.