Four Zabel advisees to present at Society of Architectural Historians conference

Stephanie Swindle Thomas
April 17, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Craig Zabel, associate professor and former head of the Penn State Department of Art History for 19 years, is celebrating a proud moment as a graduate adviser. Four of his advisees — former and current — have been invited to participate at the 71st annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, which is taking place April 18-22 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The four current and former students are:

— Denise Costanzo, a 2009 alumna and assistant professor of theory and criticism in the Penn State Department of Architecture, who will present “Fascist Rome in the Cold War:  Architecture of the Pax Americana.”

— Laurin Goad Davis, a current doctoral candidate at Penn State, who will present “Air or Access: Spaces for Children with Physical Disabilities.”

— Kelema Moses, a 2007 Penn State graduate and assistant professor of art and art history at Occidental College, will present “Building and Abandoning U.S. Naval Station Tutuila.”

— Gretta Tritch Roman, a 2008 alumna and experimental humanities digital projects coordinator at Bard College, will present “Architecture of Finance: Commodities, Securities, and Urban Space” as session co-chair.

Zabel, who teaches courses in modern architecture, with particular emphases on the architecture of the United States, Russia, Germany, and Great Britain, has been the recipient of the College of Arts and Architecture Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching, Penn State’s Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award, and the Penn State Teaching Fellow Award: The Alumni Association and Student Award for Teaching Excellence. Before coming to Penn State in 1985, he taught in the Department of Fine Arts at Dickinson College and the Schools of Architecture at the University of Virginia and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His publications are primarily in the areas of early 20th century architecture, bank architecture, Prairie School architects, American public architecture, skyscrapers, and contemporary architects.

“I’ve had the uncommon experience of three students finishing at one time, and it is quite an honor to get to see their careers take off so well. They are a very energetic, young crew,” noted Zabel.

Goad Davis, one of Zabel’s current students and Society of Architectural Historians presenter, expressed how helpful it was to go over her presentation with him because he is “attuned to visual expectations of audiences” and pushes her to improve how she presents images.

Tritch Roman agreed.

“His generous mentorship and unwavering encouragement certainly gave me the confidence to jump into participating in scholarly conferences early in my graduate career,” she said. “Likewise, his enthusiasm for the field and his welcome humor have created an environment of camaraderie among his students that I value immensely.”

Zabel also had three other students receive their doctorates within the past decade, for a total of six since 2009, all of whom have begun teaching at the college level. In 2014, Costanzo received a Rome Prize Fellowship in Modern Italian Studies from the American Academy in Rome and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in the summer of 2013. All four presenters’ topics are natural outgrowths of their dissertation research, and they are looking forward to reconnecting at the conference. The event will include 48 paper sessions, roundtables and panels, architecture tours, workshops, networking receptions, special events, and other activities.

“The annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians is a flagship event where scholars present research that is methodologically innovative and rigorous, while being global in terms of context and awareness,” said Madhuri Desai, associate professor of art history and Asian studies and director of graduate studies in art history. “It is a venue where scholarship that has the potential to change the field is first presented to an audience of academic peers. It is a sign of the excellence of art and architectural history at Penn State that four of our former and current students are participating in this event.”

For more information on the 2018 Society of Architectural Historians conference, visit

  • Craig Zabel with Kelema Moses at her graduation

    Craig Zabel with Kelema Moses at her graduation

    IMAGE: Craig Zabel
  • Craig Zabel with Gretta Tritch Roman at her graduation

    Craig Zabel with Gretta Tritch Roman at her graduation

    IMAGE: Craig Zabel
  • Craig Zabel with Denise Costanzo at her graduation

    Craig Zabel with Denise Costanzo at her graduation

    IMAGE: Craig Zabel
  • Laurin Goad Davis presenting at the Penn State Graduate Exhibition

    Lauren Goad Davis presenting at the Penn State Graduate Exhibition

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated April 19, 2018