Natalie de Blois, Influential but Excluded Modernist Architect, Dies

While working for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, de Blois helped design some of the most influential office towers of the 20th century. But, when it came time to open one of her signature buildings, she was told not to attend if she was still pregnant.

"In architecture’s 'Mad Men' era, there was a woman," writes David W. Dunlap. "Almost invisibly in her own day, Natalie de Blois, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, helped guide the design of three of the most important corporate landmarks of the 1950s and ‘60s — the headquarters of Lever Brothers, Pepsi-Cola and Union Carbide — whose suave steel-and-glass facades still exude the cool confidence of postwar Park Avenue."

"Debates can always be had about the provenance of almost any significant architectural project, particularly one coming out of an office as large and collaborative as Skidmore (where my father was a partner until his death in 1973). No one person can ever wholly claim credit."

"But there is little doubt that Ms. de Blois, who died last week, was long denied her due. That was acknowledged 40 years ago by Nathaniel A. Owings, a founding partner of the firm, in his autobiography, 'The Spaces In Between: An Architect’s Journey.'”

"Of Ms. de Blois, he wrote: 'Her mind and hands worked marvels in design — and only she and God would ever know just how many great solutions, with the imprimatur of one of the male heroes of S.O.M., owed much more to her than was attributed by either S.O.M. or the client.'”

Full Story: An Architect Whose Work Stood Out, Even if She Didn’t

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