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.
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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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