Natalie de Blois, An Architectural Pioneer

Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange has always admired one of the early American woman architects, Natalie de Blois, and as I read up on her it was truly eye opening.  She was one of only five or six women architects in America with a substantial practice when she began her career in 1944 after graduating from Columbia University.  She loved her craft, going back to the age of 10 when she told her engineer father she would one day be an Architect!

Sadly and unfairly, she was fired from her first job solely because she rejected the advances of a male architect at the firm(!).  But, the owner did her a great favor – he took her to another firm in the building and introduced her to the renowned Louis Skidmore, and she stayed with Skidmore Owings & Merrill for almost thirty years!

She is now recognized as the primary force behind two of the most iconic skyscrapers in Manhattan, the Lever Brothers headquarters and the beautiful Union Carbide Building.  She died in 2013 at the age of 92 in Chicago, where she had previously founded the Chicago Women in Architecture organization and designed the Equitable Building.  How fitting that she would end up in Chicago, home of the best architecture in the world!

Speaking of architectural icons, the Ragdale Ring Gala took place in Lake Forest on June 13, and as you can see the attire was “Belle Epoque” in honor of turn of the century architect Howard Van Doren Shaw.  The competition to design the unique stage for the event was won by the Design With Company.  They were awarded the prestigious Lucien Lagrange Prize at the Gala by that very suave gentleman standing beside them in the top hat, none other than my partner, Mr. Lagrange himself!

One of my favorite hotels in Chicago is changing hands, namely the Talbott Hotel on Delaware, which is being sold for an estimated $50 million.  It is so distinguished that the block where it is located on Delaware Street was renamed in honor of one of the owners, the late Jack Kromelow.  His son, Basil, has kept the Talbott modernized and vital to the neighborhood, earning several awards for adapting to Green Energy for the building.  The new owners are saying they only plan a few cosmetic changes, here’s hoping they leave a beautiful thing alone!  I actually had a group of Chinese investors looking to make an offer but they weren’t able to gather sufficient funding in time.  Such is life in Real Estate!

I am inviting Everyone to our Ronald McDonald House Women’s Auxiliary cocktail party on September 24th.  It is called the Fabulous 5 in honor of our five years of support for this wonderful charity.  The website for purchasing tickets is, it will be a fun event for this great cause, that helps families have a place to stay and be close while their child is staying at the Lurie Children’s Hospital!

And don’t forget, Da Bearsss are right around the corner!


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