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Obituary: Natalie de Blois, 1921-2013

July 31, 2013
natalie de blois
Photo © Flickr user Maurizio Mucciola
The former Pepsi-Cola headquarters on New York's Park Avenue.

Pioneering architect Natalie de Blois died on July 22 at 92. As an associate partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the 1960s, de Blois helped design the Equitable Building in Chicago and New York's Lever House and the former Pepsi-Cola headquarters on Park Avenue. In the third edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, the Pepsi-Cola building is described as such: "An understated elegance that bows to the scale of its Park Avenue neighbors rather than advertising itself as the newest (of its time) local modern monument. Large bays of glass are enlivened by the seemingly random arrangement of partitions (that kiss the glass with rubber gaskets) and vertical blinds."

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As Blair Kamin writes in an obituary of de Blois in the Chicago Tribune, she was a founding member, in 1970, of Chicago Women in Architecture, a group that hoped to advance the status of women in the profession and still exists today. Though "her path through the male-dominated world of architecture was laden with sexist barriers," writes Kamin, she rose the level of senior designer at SOM and "worked marvels in design," as Nathanial Owings wrote in his autobiography.

 

 

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