John Lobell addresses how new technology changes our consciousness, which in turn leads to cultural paradigm shifts. He received his degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and is a professor of architecture at Pratt Institute. His interests include creativity, architecture, cultural theory, consciousness, mythology, and movies. He has lectured throughout the world and is the author of numerous articles and several books.
Our world is no longer what we have thought it to be, and a new world is struggling to be born.
Visionary Creatives are driven to bring this new world to all of us.
20th August 2022

The Philadelphia School and the Future of Architecture

How should architecture be taught? One way might be through a convergence of school, city, and practice.

I have taught architecture at Pratt Institute since 1969, and I studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania from 1959 to 1966 during what is now called the Philadelphia School and is recognized as a golden age of Kahn, Venturi, Scott Brown, and much, much more. I have now written a book about this period: The Philadelphia School and the Future of Architecture, which you can get from Amazon or the publisher, Routledge. Routledge offers a discount with code FLA22.

Flourishing from 1951 to 1965, the Philadelphia School was an architectural golden age that saw a unique convergence of city, practice, and education, all in renewal. And it was a bringing together of architecture, city and regional planning, and landscape architecture education under the leadership of Dean G. Holmes Perkins.

During that time at the architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania (known as the Graduate School of Fine Arts or GSFA), Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi were transforming modern architecture; Romaldo Giurgola was applying continental philosophy to architectural theory; Robert Le Ricolais was building experimental structures; Ian McHarg was questioning Western civilization and advancing urban and regional ecology; Herbert Gans was moving into Levittown; and Denise Scott Brown was forging a syncretism of European and American planning theory and discovering popular culture. And in the city, Edmund Bacon was directing the most active city planning commission in the country.

This book describes the history of the school, the transformation of the city of Philadelphia, and the philosophy of the Philadelphia School in the context of other movements of the time, and looks at what the Philadelphia School has to offer to architecture today and in the future, all from the point of view of a student who was there.

John Lobell is a professor of Architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where he has taught since 1969. His courses have included design, planning, Kahn and Venturi, Frank Lloyd Wright, global architecture, creativity, and the social impact of technology. He is part of the team that teaches the architectural history and theory survey.

He studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania from 1959 to 1966 and received a post-professional master’s degree for work on architecture and structures of consciousness under G. Holmes Perkins. Subsequent to his architecture education, he studied with a range of important cultural figures, including mythologist Joseph Campbell, social critic Paul Goodman, Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa, shaman Michael Harner, and Tai Chi master Cheng Man-Ch’ing.

His wide range of interests and research address the fundamental role of creativity in our lives and how new technologies change our consciousness. He has written numerous articles, contributed to several websites, and has lectured throughout the world. He is the author of several books, including: Louis Kahn: Architecture as Philosophy, Between Silence and Light: Spirit in the Architecture of Louis I. Kahn, Architecture and Structures of Consciousness, Joseph Campbell: The Man and His Ideas, and Visionary Creativity: How New Worlds are Born.

For a 20% discount – enter the code FLA22 at checkout at Routledge.

Find a PDF of the Introduction here.

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4th June 2020

My new book on Louis Kahn

Louis Kahn:

Architecture as Philosophy

A followup to my book, Between Silence and Light: Spirit in the Architecture of Louis I. Kahn, which has been in print for forty years and is respected throughout the world.


Louis I. Kahn is one of the most influential and poetic architects of the twentieth century, a figure whose appeal extends beyond the realm of specialists. In this book, noted Kahn expert John Lobell explores how Kahn’s focus on structure, respect for materials, clarity of program, and reverence for details come together to manifest an overall philosophy. Kahn’s work clearly conveys a kind of “transcendent rootedness”–a rootedness in the fundamentals of architecture that also asks soaring questions about our experience of light and space, and even how we fit into the world. In Louis Kahn: The Philosophy of Architecture, John Lobell seeks to reveal how Kahn’s buildings speak to grand humanistic concerns.

Through examinations of five of Kahn’s great buildings–the Richards Medical Research Building in Philadelphia; the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla; the Phillips Exeter Academy Library in New Hampshire; the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth; and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven–Lobell presents a clear but detailed look at how the way these buildings are put together presents Kahn’s philosophy, including how Kahn wishes us to experience them. An architecture book that touches on topics that addresses the universal human interests of consciousness and creativity, Louis Kahn: The Philosophy of Architecture helps us understand our place and the nature of well-being in the built environment.

Get the book from Amazon

Get the book from Monacelli Press

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5th May 2020

Seminar on Visionary Creativity

For Build Academy

Thursday, May 7, 11:00 AM Eastern Time

Register at:

Visionary Creatives swim in the culture of their day and manifest in their work the spirit of their age. The things they create, in art, design, science, technology, business, embody that spirit, and at the same time restructure our consciousness, and pull us into the future. This class is about freeing your own creativity. Find a three minute preview at:

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27th February 2020

Lecture by Lobell, March 3

Our emerging Digital Genomic Industrial world

You can see a video of the lecture

You can read my thoughts about Digital Genomic technologies on this website and at

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2nd November 2016

Thoughts for Pratt Institute


I have been teaching for 40+ years at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture, and over that time I have given a lot of thought to art, architecture, and design education—how it is a marvelous education, and how it could be better. I have been regularly posting about Pratt on a school forum, and I am gathering those posts here. As you scroll down, you will find a series of topics. Comments welcome.

I look at a lot of topics, but in particular I focus on the impact of the Digital Industrial Revolution on education for our emerging 21st century. Read the rest of this entry »

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26th September 2016

A Lecture by John Lobell

VC cover001“Visionary Creativity,” a lecture by John Lobell at Pratt Institute, School of Architecture, September 29, 2016, 6:00 PM


Or search on YouTube for “John Lobell Visionary Creativity 29.” Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd September 2016

Wow, I’m a Talk Show Host!

AAA-prn-headerJoin me every Monday at 10 AM, Eastern Time, for “Visionaries,” on the internet on the Progressive Radio Network at

Find us at: (In case you are not free Mondays at 10 AM, can listen to any of my back shows at any time on the PRN archives.) Read the rest of this entry »

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7th June 2015

My new book: “Visionary Creativity” is now available

VC cover001Visionary Creativity: How New Worlds are Born, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, and on Barnes & Noble. From the back of the book:

From the back of the book:

These are times of turmoil. But times of turmoil can also be times of creativity as we become aware of new possibilities in our arts, sciences, and industries, and of new directions for our lives.

Today’s challenges all have one thing in common: they call out for Visionary Creativity. We flourish in pursuit of our creativity, and it is in creativity that we find not only fulfillment for ourselves, but also the visions our world is calling for. In this profoundly engaging book you will enter the worlds of modern art, current movies and television dramas, new technologies, and cutting edge science. Read the rest of this entry »

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21st April 2015

The École des Beaux-Arts

512MivOs9zL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I lecture annually at Artis—Naples. It is a cultural center in Naples Florida which presents “Lifelong Learning,” has a concert hall presenting classical music, opera, and Broadway shows, and includes the Baker Museum.

Last year I saw a show at the Baker Museum of works by Marcel Duchamp and members of his family.

This year there is a show of Surrealism in Belgium and a fantastic show: “Gods and Heroes, Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.” (See part of the Artis online description below.)

In 1975 MoMA put on a major show, “The Architecture of the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts.”  Everbody was at the opening.  There were panels, symposia, lectures, big fights. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th August 2014


Standing on the world’s summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!
~ F.T. Marinetti, Italian Futurist poet, The Futurist Manifesto

I think when I find the code that generates our world, it will be about six lines.
~ Stephen Wolfram, British-American computer scientist, mathematician, and entrepreneur

Global Problems

We are acutely aware of the problems facing our world today: environmental degradation, poverty, repression, ethnic conflicts. At the same time, if we follow cutting edge advances in computers, information, biotech, materials, and methods of fabrication, we are aware that we are on the verge—even in the midst of—startling developments. What are we to make of these conflicting trends? The first thing that comes to mind has to be Charles Dickens’, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Let’s look at the entire first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities: Read the rest of this entry »

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