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The Dallas Architecture Forum Presents

“The Rise of the American Skyscraper”

By Carol Willis - Director, The Skyscraper Museum

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

At the Horchow Auditorium, Dallas Museum of Art


The Dallas Architecture Forum is pleased to continue its 2018-2019 lecture season with architecture historian Carol Willis who is the Founder and Director of the Skyscraper Museum in New York City. Ms. Willis will discuss architecture featured in the DMA’s new exhibition Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art. The exhibition examines American culture from the 1910s to the Second World War and reveals how the American love affair with new technology and mechanization shaped architecture, design, and the visual culture of the United States. This lecture is presented in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art.

Carol Willis has researched, taught, and written about the history of American city building. She is the author of Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago (Princeton Architectural Press), which received an AIA book award. In addition to numerous articles in books and scholarly journals, Ms. Willis has curated more than 20 exhibitions at The Skyscraper Museum and written introductions to numerous monographs and collections, including Skyscraper RivalsNew York ArchitectureManhattan Skyscrapers, and New York Deco. She appears regularly in television documentaries and radio broadcasts, including programs for The History Channel, PBS, A & E and BBC Television, NPR, and BBC World Service Radio. Ms. Willis is an Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Columbia University. 

Additional Media Coverage: Youtube, New York Times, Invention & Technology and The Conversation



Invention & Technology

The Conversation

“Carol Willis is an expert in the history of American skyscrapers from their beginnings through the Industrial Revolution and to the present day,” stated Forum Executive Director Nate Eudaly. “The Skyscraper Museum which she founded and directs focuses on ‘the design, the construction, the operation, and the occupation of buildings; the way skyscrapers fit into people’s lives.’ We believe her application of this extensive background as a context to the DMA’s exhibition of Cult of the Machine: Precisionism in American Art will greatly enrich the understanding and experience of this exhibition.  Lecture attendees will also gain knowledge about how skyscrapers shape the urban design of major cities across the United States."

The lecture will occur at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25 with a complimentary reception for Forum members beginning at 6:15 p.m. Admission for this lecture is free for members of The Forum and the DMA. Admission for non-members is $5. Reservations are requested for this lecture. Forum and DMA member reservations, and non-member ticket purchases can be made at . AIA members can earn one hour of CE credit for each lecture. For more information on The Dallas Architecture Forum, visit or call 214-764-2406.

Season Sponsors for The Dallas Architecture Forum’s 2018-2019 Season are Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty – Faisal Halum, D Home, Maharger Development – Reggie Graham, and SMINK. Series Sponsors are Architectural Lighting Associates, Bodron + Fruit, DLR Group STAFFELBACH, Janet + Terry Kafka, modmedia, inc // Scott + Cooner, and studioOutside. Lecture Sponsor is Gensler, and Reception Sponsor is Valley House Gallery. This lecture is presented in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art.





In Partnership with the DMA and its exhibition

Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art

25 September 2018

Tuesday, 7:00 pm

Horchow Auditorium, DMA

Forum Reception and check-in 6:15 pm

Carol Willis is the Founder, Director, and Curator of The Skyscraper Museum in New York City. An architectural and urban historian, she has researched, taught, and written about the history of American city building. She is the author of Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago (Princeton Architectural Press), which received an AIA book award and was named "Best Book on North American Urbanism, 1995" by the Urban History Association. Critic Herbert Muschamp has praised Willis in The New York Times as "the brilliant and energetic woman who created the Skyscraper Museum in 1996 from nothing but her imagination, her passion for New York architecture, and her belief in the importance of history and the value of the public realm."

Willis is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Columbia University where since 1989 she has taught in the program The Shape of Two Cities: New York and Paris in The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She has taught courses on the history of architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York and for eleven summers conducted walking tours on the history of French architecture for Parsons in Paris.

Before establishing The Skyscraper Museum, Willis was guest curator for exhibits on the architects Raymond Hood and Hugh Ferriss. In conjunction with the exhibit Hugh Ferriss: Metropolis, she oversaw the facsimile reprint of the delineator's 1929 book The Metropolis of Tomorrow, contributing a historical essay on Ferriss and appendices (published by Princeton Architectural Press). In addition to articles in books and scholarly journals, Willis is the editor for Building the Empire State, a book on the construction of New York's signature skyscraper, published by W.W. Norton. She has written introductions to numerous monographs and collections, including Skyscraper Rivals, New York Architecture, Manhattan Skyscrapers, and New York Deco, and has appeared in numerous national and international television documentaries and radio broadcasts, including programs for The History Channel, PBS, A & E, BBC Television, NPR, and BBC World Service Radio.

Willis majored in Art History at Boston University, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She did her graduate work in architectural history at Columbia University in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, receiving both an M.A. and M.Phil. She has also been the recipient of numerous grants and awards.

About the Skyscraper Museum:

Located in New York City, the world's first and foremost vertical metropolis, The Skyscraper Museum celebrates the City's rich architectural heritage and examines the historical forces and individuals that have shaped its successive skylines. Through exhibitions, programs and publications, the Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. For a description of the gallery and for photos of the space, see the Photo Slideshows page.  Contemporary in design, the museum features polished stainless steel floors and ceilings, along with display cases that soar from floor to ceiling. 

The Skyscraper Museum, now located in a permanent gallery in Lower Manhattan, inhabited four temporary spaces from 1997 to 2003. The gallery was closed after September 11th, 2001, when the space was used as an emergency information center to assist downtown businesses.  In March 2004, The Skyscraper Museum opened its permanent home in a building at the southern tip of Battery Park City. The facility occupies ground-floor space in a mixed-use project that includes the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and a 38-story condominium tower. The Museum owns its space, which has been generously donated by Millennium Partners, the building's developers.

The facility contains two main galleries: one for the core exhibit Skyscraper/City on the evolution of New York's commercial skyline, and another for changing shows. With a permanent home, the Museum also began the process of collecting and preserving important artifacts of high-rise history, of organizing an active education program, and of celebrating New York's rich architectural heritage.

With the skyline of Lower Manhattan as its immediate backdrop and the panorama of New York harbor at its front door, the Museum enjoys a site of breathtaking beauty and an unmatched location for cultural tourism and serves as a vital element in the changed landscape of downtown. A short walk from the historic skyscrapers and canyons of lower Broadway and Wall Street, and minutes from the embarkation point of boats to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Museum stands at a nexus of past and present that attracts over 10 million tourists annually.

About the Dallas Architecture Forum

The Dallas Architecture Forum is a not-for-profit civic organization that brings leading architectural thought leaders from around the world to speak in Dallas and also fosters important local dialogue about the major issues impacting our urban environment.  The Forum was founded in 1996 by some of Dallas’ leading architects, business, cultural and civic leaders, and it continues to benefit from active support and guidance from these citizens. The Forum fulfills its mission of providing a continuing and challenging public discourse on architecture and urban design in - and for - the Dallas area. The Dallas Architecture Forum's members include architects, design professionals, students and educators, and a broad range of civic-minded individuals and companies intent to improve the urban environment in North Texas.  The Forum has been recognized nationally with an AIA Collaboration Achievement Award for its strategic partnerships with other organizations focused on architecture, urban planning and the arts.  For more information on The Forum, visit

Among the over 230 speakers who have addressed The Forum’s Lecture Series are Shigeru Ban, Brad Cloepfil, Diller + Scofidio, Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Daniel Libeskind, Thomas Phifer, Rafael Vinoly, Juhani Pallasmaa,  AIA Gold Medal Winner Peter Bohlin, and regional architects David Lake and Ted Flato.  Pritzker Prize winners speaking to The Forum have been Kazuyo Sejima, Rafael Moneo, Thom Mayne, Rem Koolhaas and Norman Foster (the latter two in collaboration with the ATT Performing Arts Center). Other speakers for The Forum have been leading designers Calvin Tsao, Andrée Putman, and Karim Rashid; landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh; and National Trust President Emeritus Richard Moe.  Important critics, authors and patrons who have spoken to The Forum include Emily Pulitzer, Terence Riley, Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Campbell and Blair Kamin, Aaron Betsky, and the late David Dillon.

The Forum organizes and presents an annual series of Panels—local, informal, open, and offered free of charge as a public service to the community—led by a moderator who brings a subject of local importance along with comments by participating panelists.  Moderators and Panelists have also come from both other Texas cities as well as from national institutions that were connected with particular Panel subjects.  Panels offer attendees the opportunity to participate in creating discourse.  Important topics addressed in Panels in recent years include: “Thoughts on the Dallas Comprehensive Plan”; “The Kimbell Expansion: A Discussion”; “Filling Out the Dallas Arts District”; and “Re-envisioning the Trinity”.  

For more information on The Dallas Architecture Forum, visit For questions about The Forum, call 214-764-2406.

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