Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment.
The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with more than 1,700 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi.
Bunshaft worked briefly for Edward Durrell Stone and Raymond Loewy before beginning his forty-two-year career at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. In his early years at the firm, he designed buildings for the 1939-40 New York World's Fair and Hostess House, a cadet hospitality center at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois (1941-42). After serving in the Corps of Engineers during World War II, Bunshaft rejoined SOM in 1947. Later that year he moved to the firm's New York office; he became a full partner in 1949. As Lever House's chief designer (1950-1952), Bunshaft was recognized for the first time. In the words of architecture critic Paul Goldberger, this twenty-four-story office tower was "New York's first major commercial structure with a glass curtain wall (preceded only by the United Nations Secretariat), obscuring the solid wall of stonework on Park Avenue, like a vision of a new world.
After Lever House, Bunshaft was involved in the design of several prominent buildings, including the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company headquarters (1957) in Bloomfield, Connecticut; the Pepsi-Cola Building (1958-60) on Park Avenue; the United States Air Force Academy (1959) in Colorado Springs; Chase Manhattan Bank Headquarters and Plaza (1960-61) and 140 Broadway (1964-67) in lower Manhattan; the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (1963) at Yale University; the W.R. Grace Building (1973) at West 42nd Street; the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library (1971) at the University of Texas, Austin; the Hirshhom Museum and Sculpture Garden (1974) in Washington, DC; and the National Commercial Bank (1983) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
He was also awarded the Brunner Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1955, and his gold medal in 1984. He received the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize, often called the architectural equivalent of the Nobel Prize, in 1988, two years before his death.
Notable projects include the Pepsi Cola headquarters, Lever House, and the Union Carbide Building in New York City, the Equitable Building in Chicago, the lower portions of Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. Headquartered in Bloomfield, Conn.
De Blois joined Neuhaus & Taylor (now known as 3-D International) in Houston in 1974. In 1980, he began teaching at the University of Texas School of Architecture and was a faculty member until 1993. He died at 92 years in Chicago.