Modern architecture scholar to discuss cinematic images of Emerald City of Oz

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

A visiting modern architecture scholar will discuss the skyscraper and its effect on popular American culture on Thursday, March 9, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

Dr. Craig Zabel, chair of the Department of Art History at Pennsylvania State University, will give his lecture, The American Skyscraper from the Emerald City of Oz to Glass Towers of the 1950s,” at 6 p.m. in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in the UA Little Rock Fine Arts Building.

The event is free and open to the public. The Architecture and Design Network will host a reception at 5 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building.

The illustrated presentation will explore two case studies of skyscrapers in popular culture. The first topic is images of the Emerald City of Oz as presented in the 1939 classic film, “The Wizard of Oz.”

“The cinematic image of this streamlined magical city will be examined within the context of the skyscraper age of the 1920s and 1930s as well as the Great Depression,” Zabel said.  

The second topic discussed will be the Lever House, a glass-walled skyscraper built in 1952 by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The building serves as a “collision of radical modernism and American consumerism/advertising targeting the 1950s housewife,” Zabel said.  

Zabel teaches courses in modern architecture, with emphases on the architecture of the United States, Russia, Germany, and Great Britain. Before arriving at Penn State in 1985, he taught in the Department of Fine Arts at Dickinson College and in the Schools of Architecture at the University of Virginia and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Additionally, he is co-editor of “American Public Architecture: European Roots and Native Expressions.” He has taught at Penn State since 1985 and chaired the Department of Art History since 1996.

This lecture is part of the artWORKS series funded by a grant from the Windgate Foundation, and is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Design, and the Architecture and Design Network as part of the June Freeman lecture series.

For more information, contact Floyd Martin at 501.569.3182 or

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