Maria Lorena Lehman

Founder of MLL ATELIER

multi award-winning foresight architect and visionary artist

Biography of Maria Lorena Lehman

Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning foresight architect that focuses on links between architectural design, scientific discovery, emerging technology, and human potential. Within her creative practice, she uses research-driven digital media, filmmaking, painting, sculpture, music, and writing to push architectural design in ways that imagine new futures for our world. Lehman is described as “one of the leading experts on delivering exceptional occupant experience through smart building design”, and she is author of the internationally published award-winning book entitled, Adaptive Sensory Environments. Maria Lorena Lehman is also recipient of the Harvard University Digital Design Prize for the “most creative use of digital media in relation to the design professions”, and her projects have been described as "diving into the heart" of environmental design.

Lehman holds the degrees of Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech. She has served as Instructor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and continues to serve as Review Editor for peer-review journals internationally. Maria Lorena Lehman is widely published in a multitude of books, research journals, and is in numerous periodicals including Architect Magazine, The Architect's Journal, Rethinking the Future, ArchDaily, and Forbes.

Consistently at the core of her work is a motivation to push the role of environments into more proactive symphonic realms that empower people to thrive and achieve fulfillment at their highest potential. Maria Lorena Lehman is founder of MLL ATELIER, a multi award-winning studio based in the United States that was named Boutique Design Firm of the Year for North America. Additionally, Lehman is recipient of the Harmony for Humanity: Global Consciousness Art Prize, as well as the International Leonardo da Vinci Prize. Her works are shown in galleries, art fairs, and museums internationally, including New York, Barcelona, Miami, London, and Paris.

As Maria Lorena Lehman forges new paths for harmonic environments, she aims to help create a world where all thrive. This is why her creations are said to be "evocative visual poetry of motion that is a new inspiration". To experience the prescience of her foresight design thinking and methodology, explore this website and subscribe to the Design Innovation Newsletter (DIN) that disseminates Lehman's vision, research findings, and foresight projections to over 6,000 subscribers in over 70+ countries worldwide. To learn more about the studioworks of Maria Lorena Lehman, visit the Gallery of Architectural Art + Design.


A World of Joy

The call is upon us to not only solve for global problems, but to also solve for global possibility. While the latter is important to consider, it is the former that primarily drives my creative practice. I believe that when we reach for what we can become, we see better ways to solve for what we have not yet been.

I see a future for our world where symphonic environments holistically nurture humanity to bring the best out in our nature as we actualize our highest potential. To build this vision, I create films, music, and art that use imagination to push design horizons. I also use design to push into new cinematic, symphonic, and artistic frontiers.

Within my architecture, film, music, and art compositions, I present worlds that make the seemingly impossible, possible. This helps us rethink, appreciate, evolve, and nurture how we cultivate our own world – including our innermost being, as well as our external reality.

Buckminster Fuller once stated, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.

Through my studio practice, I am building new models of poetic beauty with vision, creativity, and compassion. Ultimately, my mission is to cultivate a world of joy. By seeing beauty not only when it is easy, but also when it is difficult, life becomes richer because the feelings of curiosity, aliveness, and love win.

— Maria Lorena Lehman

Awards & Honors


International Leonardo da Vinci Prize

The Universal Artist

Maria Lorena Lehman is honored to accept the International Leonardo da Vinci Prize awarded at the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan, Italy. Thank you for recognizing Lehman's work, and for its inclusion in the 2024 Contemporary Celebrity Masters Art Book.


Harmony for Humanity: The Global Consciousness Art Prize

It is a delight to announce Maria Lorena Lehman is a recipient of Harmony for Humanity: The Global Consciousness Art Prize: a groundbreaking initiative that celebrates the profound connection between art, harmony, and the advancement of humanity. This prestigious prize recognizes artists who leverage their creative brilliance to ignite a global shift in consciousness, fostering unity, understanding, and positive social change.


Inducted as Fellow of the Professional Artist Association

The PAA is an international association for professional artists that brings together creatives through education, community, and global events.


Boutique Design Firm of the Year for North America

THA Innovation and Design Award

MLL Atelier is honored to receive the 2022 THA Innovation and Design Award as Boutique Design Firm of the Year for North America. It is a great pleasure to receive this award, and I am encouraged to continue working toward the art of design innovation for architecture. Thank you for the nomination and for the award. It is very meaningful!


3D Design Firm of the Year for United States

THA Innovation and Design Award

MLL Atelier (formerly known as MLL Design Lab) is honored to receive the 2021 THA Innovation and Design Award as 3D Design Firm of the Year for the United States. It is wonderful knowing that THA Awards celebrates forward-thinking design practices, and I am encouraged to know that this design research studio is valued. Thank you for the nomination and for the award. I am delighted!


International Research builds the case for 'Interaction Narratives' based on the work of Maria Lorena Lehman | Buildings: Peer-Review Journal

Within the Buildings peer-review journal edited by Dusan Katunsky and Jeffrey Huang, grant-funded research by Professor Henri Achten argues that "interaction narratives" (as based on my work) "provide a better fit of the interactive building with user, and lead to a more profound understanding of such systems. [...] Such a logical development of interaction events is a narrative, as recognized in the work of Maria Lorena Lehman, [and] interaction narratives currently are the best viewpoint from which to develop responsive and interactive architecture". It is an honor to know that my work contributed to this important research and publication, and I look forward to more collaborative opportunities as this research continues to unfold.


HP Mars Home Planet Competition Finalist

Hewlett Packard: Urbanization of Mars Rendering Challenge

The submitted concept design film by MLL Atelier, entitled "Montsechia: The First City on Mars", imagines a unique planetary urbanization design as presented through different habitation phases over time. It is a pleasure knowing that this short film has impact.


Silver Medal Nautilus Book Award Winner

Nautilus Book Awards: Creative Process

Adaptive Sensory Environments by Maria Lorena Lehman won a Silver Medal Nautilus Book Award in the Creative Process category. The book presents a cutting-edge methodology for adaptive sensory design by fostering an inter-disciplinary approach in which aspects of neuroscience, biophilia, captology, nanotechnology, kinetics, and sensemaking all play critical roles in helping adaptive architecture ‘tune’ to occupants. Established in the United States in 1998, the annual Nautilus Book Awards recognize books that are conscious catalysts for positive change toward a better world. Previous winners include Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


Routledge Featured Author

Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group

Maria Lorena Lehman is delighted to be a Featured Author with Routledge: Taylor & Francis publishers. It was an exciting process to share behind-the-scenes insights behind the making of the book, Adaptive Sensory Environments, for this feature.


JDR Industry Award Nominee: Best Blog in Architecture

JDR Industry Blogger Awards

Thank you to all readers of the MLL Atelier blog, and the MLL StudioWorks Newsletter. Without you, this nomination would not have been possible. Thank you for supporting this important work. I love hearing from each one of you, as you pose intriguing insights and questions about the multitude of topics I explore as I aim to unlock new possibility for architectural design. I sincerely appreciate the nomination.


Digital Design Prize

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Harvard University Graduate School of Design awarded the Digital Design Prize to Maria Lorena Lehman for "the most creative use of digital media in relation to the design professions". To this day, the Digital Design Prize award is a driving "north star" as Maria Lorena Lehman continues to evolve her research-driven design studio.


Juris Jansens Memorial Award: Excellence in Design

Virginia Tech

During architectural study at Virginia Tech, Maria Lorena Lehman was awarded the Juris Jansens Memorial Award for Excellence in Design.


Michelle Currie Memorial Scholarship: Excellence in Design

Virginia Tech

During architectural study at Virginia Tech, Maria Lorena Lehman was awarded the Michelle Currie Award for Excellence in Design.


Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary and forward-thinking artist, author and designer. Her books and advice are an endless source of inspiration and they truly embody the future and progress of the physical space and people. She has a 360 degree vision and therefore her advice makes you broaden your imagination, and drives you through your design path. Her suggestions have helped me many times to understand the strengths of my ideas as well as its weaknesses, and have given me the means to develop every project in unpredicted ways.”

— Andrea Saliola

CEO at Pixies. Forbes under 30

"Maria Lorena Lehman has established a formidable international reputation. She examines how technology, nature, learning from other design sectors and many other aspects can harness benefits for occupants and in this way transform architectural design."

— Dr. Derek Clements-Croome

Professor Emeritus, School of the Built Environment

Reading University, United Kingdom

"I was challenged with learning how to touch the soul through environmental design. Since learning from
Maria Lorena Lehman, I now understand how through design beauty is not only seen with our physical senses, but also with our soul and spirit."

— Deyanira Khouri

Architect | Dominican Republic

"After being in architecture both academically and within the industry for over 20 years, I feel as though what
Maria Lorena Lehman teaches brings to light long lost and forgotten components, secrets, and keys to creating hi-functionality and attentive design. Something computers don’t often provide when the designer is in the trenches."

— Archtitude

5-Star Review | United States

"I present this testimony to express my gratitude and admiration for this website and the lecturer's outstanding performance, which shows abundant knowledge and strong presentation. These lectures by Maria Lorena Lehman have benefited me in my scientific life as a university professor and my professional practices as an architect. I always wish her good luck."

— Dr. Usama Konbr

Associate Professor

Architectural Engineering Department

Tanta University, Egypt

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