University of Texas, Alexander Architectural Archive

Natalie de Blois collection

Collection Summary

Creator de Blois, Natalie, 1921-2013
Title: NNatalie de Blois collection
Dates: 1965, 1979-1990
Abstract Natalie de Blois (1921-2013) was active in the field of architecture from 1944 through the 1990s. Her professorship at The University of Texas at Austin spanned from 1980-1993. This collection contains working drawings of projects for which de Blois was designer and the work of students who participated in her studios at The University of Texas School of Architecture (1985-1987, 1989-1993). Record types include architectural drawings and models.
Identification: deB 1991007
Quantity: documents representing 12 projects
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Biographical Sketch of Natalie de Blois

Natalie de Blois was born in Paterson, New Jersey 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 her junior high 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. When she graduated in January 1944 she worked for Ketchum Gina and Sharp of 9 months. In 1945 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, primarily Louis Skidmore, and Gordon Bunshaft.

As a senior designer at SOM, she was responsible for all phases of the job - programming, design, presentation, and interior layout. She worked directly with Gordon Bunshaft on Lever Brothers Company headquarter in New York, was basic design coordinator for the Terrace Plaza Hotel 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, Connecticut 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 join 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 1993, 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."

Natalie De Blois died Monday, July 22, 2013, in Chicago.

References: Paine, Judith. Natalie de Blois: Women in American Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective. New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1977.

On Campus: A Publication for Faculty and Staff at the University of Texas at Austin. Vol. 8, No. 14, January 12-18, 1981.

Prospectus. University of Texas School of Architecture, 1989.

SOM Journal 4. Interview with Natalie de Blois by Detlef Mertins, June 17, 2004.

Scope and Content of the collection

This collection is made up of two groups: working drawings of projects for which Natalie de Blois was project designer; and the work of students who participated in de Blois' studios at the University of Texas School of Architecture (1985-1987, 1989-1990).


Policies Governing Use and Access

This collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using archival materials. As all or portions of this collection may be housed off-site, advance notice of at least three working days is required for retrieval. Certain items may require additional time for flattening or humidifying before they can be viewed. Access is by appointment only. Please contact the archives' reference staff for further information.

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasions of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person).

The Alexander Architectural Archives operate in accordance with applicable federal or state laws and regulations, providing unrestricted access to university records not covered by state and federal right to privacy acts.

The Alexander Architectural Archives, The University of Texas Libraries, and The University of Texas at Austin, assume no responsibility for infringement of literary property rights and copyright or for liability to any person for defamation or invasion of privacy that results from a researcher's use of collections.

Researchers agree to indemnify and hold harmless The University of Texas at Austin, and their officers, employees, and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions, and expenses arising out of use of collections held by the libraries. Please alert staff if anything inappropriate is found during research.

Copyright interests in this collection may not have been transferred to the University of Texas. Researchers assume full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply. Additionally, the public use of material must be cited. See citation information below.

Administrative Information


Natalie de Blois collection, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

Gift of Natalie de Blois

August 1, 1991

Processing information

Processing is not completed. Please contact Archive's staff for more information.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a listing of the materials as processed. Processing is not complete.

Series A: Professional Practice Working Drawings

Series Abstract
The Professional Practice Working Drawings series contains prints of working drawings from projects in Seattle, New Jersey and Minneapolis (1965, 1979-1986).
Project name: Seafirst Fifth Avenue Plaza (42 story office tower). Working Drawings: architectural, structural, electrical, plumbing, shop.
Date on drawings: 1980 (completed).
Primary archt/firm: 3D/International, Inc., Houston, Natalie de Blois, designer.
Collaborators: Richard L. Kreutz (project manager).
Collaborators: Skilling, Helie, Christiansen, Robertson, Structural Engineers.
Seattle First National Bank and Gerald D. Hines Interests (developer)
Project name: Horizon House (28 story apartment building), Horizon Road. Working drawings: architectural.
Date on drawings: 1965 (completed).
Primary archt/firm: Skidmore, Owings Merrill (Chicago office), Natalie de Blois, designer, with Bruce Graham, Design Partner.
Fort Lee
This project was built along the Hudson River overlooking New York City south of the George Washington Bridge.
Project name: Columbia House (5 story office with restaurant). Working drawings: architectural.
Date on drawings: 1979-1980.
Primary archt/firm: Fred Basseti & Co., architects
403 Columbia St.
Project name: Minneapolis City Center. Working drawings: architectural, selected structural sets.
Date on drawings: 1981.
Primary archt/firm: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Denver office)
Project name: Century Square. Working drawings: architectural.
Date on drawings: 1984, completed 1986.
Primary archt/firm: 3D/International with Richard L. Kreutz

Series B: Student Projects

Series Abstract
The Student Projects series includes models and drawings made by students from 1985-1990.
Project name: New York City Coliseum, Columbus Circle - Mixed Use Development (retail, office, hotel, condos). Program from Michael Graves (2,600,000 sq. ft). Model.
Date on drawings: Fall 1986.
Author: Mihaly Turbucz, 4th year design (563/696 Advanced Design, undergraduate.) Natalie de Blois studio.
New York City
Project name: City Corp Los Angeles Project - Mixed Use Development (office, retail, parking; 3,000,000 sq ft.) scale: 1-30. Model.
Date on drawings: Fall 1987.
Author: Debra Bailey and Andrew Ksellberg (ARC 560, undergraduate). Natalie de Blois studio.
Los Angeles
Project name: Seattle, Washington Mixed Use Project. Model.
Date on drawings: Spring 1985.
Author: Thomas Van Den Bout (ARC 563/696, undergraduate). Natalie de Blois studio.
For site of building, see working drawings for Century Square.
Project name: Broadway State Office Building, Times Square - Mixed Use Office Building with adjacent Lyceum Theatre Air Rights. Model.
Date on drawings: Fall 1989.
Author: Bill Greineder (560R/696, graduate advanced design). Natalie de Blois studio.
New York City
Project name: Competition entry for "Designing in the Historical Context" sponsored by AIA and Otis Elevators, London. Working drawings: studio.
Date on drawings: Spring 1989.
Author: Robert Dobrot and Curtis Roberts. Natalie de Blois studio.
Project name: Grand Palace Tower for LA Southern California Gas Building. Presentation design drawings.
Date on drawings: Spring 1990.
Author: Natalie de Blois studio.
Los Angeles