Cracking the Glass Ceiling

SOM
SOM
Apr 2, 2015 · 27 min read

A look back at the career of trailblazing architect Natalie de Blois



That was when I decided,
“You’re a woman and you’re in a man’s profession.
You better get a degree.”

Mario Salvadori, Natalie de Blois, and Philip Johnson. Photo courtesy of Natalie de Blois

We worked every day, every night. We worked Saturday.
We worked Sunday. We worked holidays — everything.

The Terrace Plaza Hotel. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto
The General Assembly of the United Nations meets at its temporary headquarters: the renovated New York State Building, now the Queens Museum
The Terrace Plaza Hotel. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto
Joan Miró’s work for the Terrace Plaza Hotel as featured in the New York Herald Tribune
New York University Medical Center and the cover of MoMA’s bulletin about its exhibition on SOM in 1950. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto, image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

The first thing you saw was the model of Lever House.
It was small but spectacular.

Louis Skidmore (left) presents a model of the Lever House. Photo © Leo Trachtenberg
Connecticut General Life Insurance Company Headquarters. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto
Connecticut General Life Insurance Company Headquarters. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto
Istanbul Hilton Hotel. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto

Basically I’m interested in the nuts and bolts of how you put things together.

Pepsi-Cola World Corporation Headquarters. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto
Pepsi-Cola Corporation World Headquarters. Photos © Ezra Stoller | Esto
Natalie de Blois featured in the January 1958 issue of Fortune magazine
Union Carbide Corporation Headquarters. Photo © Wolfgang Hoyt | Esto
Union Carbide Corporation Headquarters. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto

He said, “You can go out to Chicago if you want.
If you go, you must realize that you’ll never be a partner.”

Equitable Life Assurance Company. Photo © SOM, Wurts Brothers
Emhart Manufacturing Company. Photo © Ezra Stoller | Esto
Lincoln Center Library. Photo © Alexandre Georges

I just loved to teach. I loved the students. I had such a wonderful time.

Natalie de Blois examining a skyscraper model with her students at the UT-Austin School of Architecture in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin
Natalie de Blois with former students in 1988 at the New York offices of SOM. Photo courtesy of Natalie de Blois

SOM

Written by

SOM

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. For more, visit www.som.com.