Natalie Griffin de Blois
de Blois, Natalie Griffin
Occupation: American architect
Location (state): NY; IL; TX
This record has not been verified for accuracy.
Member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 1944-
Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) 1974
American Architects Directories:
Address listed in 1956 American Architects Directory
Address listed in 1962 American Architects Directory
Address listed in 1970 American Architects Directory
Contributed by the Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas:
Natalie de Blois was born on April 2, 1921, the daughter of a civil engineer who encouraged her to study architecture. As a child, her father demanded that she be allowed to take mechanical drawing at school. When the Depression derailed her plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she instead enrolled as one of five female students at the Columbia School of Architecture, where she graduated in 1944. That same year she joined the fledgling New York architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). She was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1951.
At Skidmore, Owings & Merrill she rose from draftsperson to participating associate. Over her thirty-year tenure at SOM, she worked alongside the star architects of the firm, such as William Brown, Louis Skidmore, and Gordon Bunshaft.
As a senior designer at SOM, she was responsible for all phases of the job - programming, design, presentation, working drawings, and interior layout. She was basic design coordinator for the Terrace Plaza Hotel of 1948 in Cincinnati, a senior designer on the Consular-Amerikahaus program, which consisted of several building consulates in several German cities under Gordon Bunshaft's supervision. She worked on the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company Building in Bloomfield, CT in 1957, the Pepsi-Cola Building on Park Avenue in New York in 1959, the Union Carbide Building, and the Emhart Manufacturing Company Building in 1962. After 30 years with SOM, she left to pursue writing and teaching. In 1975, she joined the Houston firm of Neuhaus & Taylor as Senior Project Designer.
In 1980, she arrived at The University of Texas to teach a design studio. She remained an adjunct professor at the University until 1990, teaching Advanced Architectural Design, Visual Communication, and Technical Communication. Her advanced design studio had a reputation for being "pragmatic and intense."
In an article that appeared in On Campus: A Publication for Faculty and Staff at The University of Texas at Austin, de Blois admitted "Being a woman architect is not the important thing to me. I've always been singled out because I'm the one who did large buildings, but architecture is a building profession." As the single working mother of four sons, de Blois was an anomaly in the working world of the 1960s. However, by the 1970's, de Blois became active in addressing the hardships and limitations faced by women in architecture. She became an active member of the American Institute of Architects Task Force on Women, visiting architecture schools and talking to female students. Scholars who have studied de Blois's work have been aghast that after thirty years of service at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, she was never made partner. De Blois stated "that never bothered me…I don't think my training in the office (because I was a woman) put me in the position of being a partner."
Interview and article on SOM's web site.
The American Institute of Architects Archives
Membership file may contain membership application, Fellowship nomination, related correspondence. Membership files of living persons are not available. Contact the AIA Archives at email@example.com for further information.
Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas
Natalie de Blois: Working drawings and students' studio work, 1965, 1979-1990
This collection is made up of two groups: working drawings of projects for which Natalie de Blois was designer; and the work of students who participated in de Blois' studios at the University of Texas School of Architecture (1985-1987, 1989-1990).
For more information https://www.lib.utexas.edu/about/locations/alexander-architectural-archives