Natalie de Blois (1921–2013) contributed to some of the most iconic modernist works for corporate America, all while raising four children. After leaving this significant mark on post-war Park Avenue, she transferred to the SOM Chicago office, where she became actively involved in the architecture feminist movement and was one of the leaders in the newly formed Chicago Women in Architecture advocacy group. Later, she finished her career as a professor at UT Austin, where she trained a future generation of architects.
As an architect, Natalie loved systems – understanding how things worked. For her, it wasn’t just pretty buildings, she challenged the code and questioned the status quo. And like the buildings she designed, there was a certain complexity to Natalie herself. She was a woman of resilient beauty, inspiring yet distant, ahead of her time. Often overshadowed by her male counterparts, we hope to shed light on her life’s work and legacy.
Special thanks to Gabrielle Esperdy, Audrey Matlock, Carol Krinsky, Carol Ross Barney, Margaret McCurry, Peter Dixon, John Newman, Liz Watykus, Julia Murphy and Robert de Blois. The archival audio of Natalie de Blois interviewed by Betty Blum is from the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architects Oral History Project. Thank you to Nathaniel Parks, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago Archives, for your help with this recording.
This podcast is produced by Brandi Howell, with editorial advising from Alexandra Lange. Special thanks to Matt Alvarez and Iowa Public Radio for their production assistance. New Angle Voice is brought to you by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, with support from Knoll, a MillerKnoll company and SOM.