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NORR ed ZOOM INVITATION - John Lobell | Spirit in the Architecture of Louis Kahn

April 12, 2022

Time: 12:00 - 2:00 PM ET

Link: Join Us on ZOOM

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Intro By Silvio Baldassarra

Last week my friend, David Craddock, past President of the OAA and RAIC and past host of NORR ed, told me that when he was in high school in Philadelphia, Louis Kahn came to his school to give a talk to his class about architecture. The rest is history for David, who is now a retired architect having had a rewarding practice of his own.


In 1974 when I was in third year architecture, at the University of Toronto, I discovered Louis Kahn’s works and later based my fifth-year thesis on his design philosophy. In 2005 I was hypnotized seeing the Salk Institute, for the first time in person on a trip, which I consider to be his greatest piece of architecture.


Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Moshe Safdie, Robert Venturi, Jack Diamond and   Charles Dagit and others, were the lucky ones to apprentice with Louis Kahn and you can see the many influences in their work today continuing his legacy.


Louis Kahn, the architect, graduated in 1924 but really started his distinctive architectural style in 1950 balancing a significant architectural practice and academic professorship at Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton, along with writing about the philosophy of architecture. Louis Kahn  left us in 1974. His accomplishments and legacy in his short life distinguishes him as a Master of Architecture. The subject of this NORR ed Master Series.


Our guest speaker John Lobell Professor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY is the most noted authority on Louis Kahn. His book Louis Kahn, Architecture as Philosophy, 2020, is a must read for anyone who is interested in the master. In addition, the original John Lobell book; Between Silence and Light: Spirit in The Architecture of Louis I. Kahn, 1979 remains the essence of Louis Kahn’s work.


While we as individuals appreciate in our own way the works of Louis Kahn and as most have seen the movie or documentaries, it is an honour to have someone like John Lobell that has spent decades researching and studying his work, and the meaning of his work, to present his thoughts to us at this upcoming NORR ed session.


I am honoured to invite all of you to attend “Spirit in the Architecture of Louis Kahn” to be delivered by one of the great professors of Louis Kahn’s works. I know this will be a session to be remembered for all of you.


Presentation Description

Early in the modern movement there was a rejection of monumentality, but by the 1940s there was an awareness of the need for perhaps a new monumentality, and Louis Kahn joined the call. But by the mid 1950s


Kahn realized that it was not monumentality—a rootedness in the past—that he should be looking for, but Order—a rootedness in beginnings. Kahn held that we cannot approach Order directly, but that we can through his metaphor of Silence and Light. He said, “Inspiration is the feeling of being at the threshold where Silence and Light meet. Silence, the unmeasurable, desire to be, desire to express, the source of new need, meets Light, the measurable, giver of all presence, by will, by law, the measure: things already made, at a threshold which is inspiration, the sanctuary of art, the Treasury of Shadow.”


In his talk Lobell will look at Kahn’s spiritual thought, show how it is manifest in his buildings as well as his words, and position Kahn as a source of both philosophical and architectural inspiration.


John Lobell is a professor of architecture at Pratt Institute, and attended the University of Pennsylvania where Kahn taught. Lobell is the author of several books, including Between Silence and Light: Spirit in the Architecture of Louis I. Kahn, and Louis Kahn: Architecture as Philosophy.

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