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Events November 2017

DOCOMOMO NY/TRIModern Conversation

Gabrielle Esperdy on architect Natalie de Blois: Between Modernism and Feminism

November 7, 2017

This talk examines the career of Natalie de Blois, the SOM senior designer who made key contributions to some of the firm’s most iconic Modern buildings, including the Pepsi-Cola and Connecticut General headquarters. While following de Blois’s professional trajectory from New York to Chicago to Houston, Gabrielle Esperdy will analyze the twin narratives of modernism and feminism that ultimately defined her career. These include de Blois’s professional collaboration with SOM’s Gordon Bunshaft in the 1950s and her involvement with the AIA’s Task Force on Women in Architecture in the 1970s. The talk will also consider de Blois's less well known work as an architectural educator at the University of Texas in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gabrielle Esperdy is an architectural historian whose work examines the intersections of modernism, consumerism and urbanism in the United States. Her first book, Modernizing Main Street (Chicago 2008) looked at efforts to use modern architecture to transform shopping districts and commercial strips during the Great Depression. Her forthcoming book, American Autopia (Virginia 2018) studies how the automobile influenced mid-century architectural and urban discourse. Esperdy’s scholarship also looks at the architecture profession as it is shaped by social and cultural concerns, including gender, ethnicity, and class. She is a contributor to Places and the founding editor of SAH Archipedia. She is Associate Professor of Architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Tuesday November 7, 6:30 pm
Knoll Showroom 
1330 Sixth Avenue (at West 54th St)
Second Floor. Enter through building lobby.
Reception to follow
$15 DOCOMOMO members; $25 general admission


Center: Connecticut General Life Insurance, Hartford, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1958. Bottom: Pepsi Cola Corporation World Headquarters, New York, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1960. Photo by Maurizio Mucciola


Week of November 5th