Earlier today, news broke that the De Blasio administration has hashed out a deal with JPMorgan Chase to demolish its existing headquarters at 270 Park Avenue, and replace the structure with a shiny new 70-story building. The deal was negotiated in the wake of the Midtown East rezoning, which loosened zoning regulations for the area in exchange for developers providing street-level and infrastructure improvements.
But lost in the coverage was any mention of the building’s historic importance: It’s one of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s many midcentury commissions (including Lever House, which is just a few blocks away from the Chase HQ), but one of few designed by a woman working in the male-dominated world of architecture. SOM’s Natalie de Blois was, by all accounts, the driving force behind 270 Park Avenue, despite Gordon Bunshaft getting the credit as the design partner.
Or, as Beverly Willis, who works to raise awareness of female architects, put it in a New York Times column celebrating De Blois’s work, “Natalie and Gordon Bunshaft were a team. He took all the credit and she did all the work.”