Sunday, May 14, 2006


Nathalie was born in Quebec to a francophone family. She had earned the nickname "grasshopper" for her unstoppable energy. The only way to get her to stop was to sit her down with paper and crayons. She loved to draw. Her tenacity and drive were evident even at an early age. On her first day of school she pushed her way to the front of the line for the bus. Someone was not happy with this and pushed her into the doors. So she missed that first day with a bloody nose.

During her childhood she was told that women had their place and it was not in the work world. In high school, she told her guidance councellor that she was interested in architecture. Again she was told she it was not a reasonable goal. She applied to various architecture programs but was not excepted. She was not deterred. She enrolled in an architectural technician (architectural drafter with technical knowledge) program. Unlike her peers she still had a passion for architecture and becoming an architect. After finishing her degree, she continued with other related programs while still trying to get into an architecture program. She attained degrees in urban planning and environmental design. First she applied to francophone architecture programs in Quebec. Then she applied to anglophone programs across Canada who did not accept her because her level of English did not meet their standards. Finally she applied to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Versailles and was accepted.

She wanted so badly to become an architect that she was willing to fly to Europe alone to live with distant friends of the family on her own dime. In short it was a difficult time being alone in a foreign land. After four years, she won a scholarship to travel back to study for a year at an American university. And that is where I met her. She returned to France for two years to finish her degree. She chose the Bibliotheque Nationale de Quebec as her thesis project locating it on the parcel of land just west of Place des Arts in Montreal. After near constantly working on it for months, she finished in record time. In addition to the local professors and architects on her jury, Anne Cormier of Atelier Big City was flown in from Montreal. She won awards for an exceptional project and exceptional work ethic for her project (exceptionnel projet de thèse et exceptionnel Éthique de Travail). She even won another scholarship to return to the US to do a thesis there. Again she worked hard on a thesis title "Architecturalizing the Edge". It dealt with creating an physical interrelationship between the city grid of Chicago and the lake. She even had Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne sit on her jury.

She then entered the work world gaining employment at Perkins & Will architects in Chicago. During her five years there, she worked on such esteemed projects as the interiors of the Hotel Sofitel in Chicago, the LG office towers in Korea, Tribune Interactive in Chicago, Terminal 3 of the Dubai Airport, and a new university in Angola. But it was not until moving here to Montreal that she would be able to work on a project as the head designer. Last year her first completed work took shape.

This is an office building in Repentigny, Quebec built to house a contracting company. The mayor decreed it as an example of the calibur of commercial building he would like to be built along this commercial avenue. It is very special to have a project of hers finally built.

I am very fortunate to call Nathalie my wife. We have two wonderful young daughters and their character is a direct reflection of the great care their mother takes in helping them becoming the best they can be. They are fortunate to have her as their mother.

Happy Mothers Day Nathalie! We love you very much!


Anonymous said...

What a perfect way to honor Nathalie on Mother's day!
She is a wonderful woman and we all love her very much too.
Happy Mothers Day Nathalie!

from, Frank the elder

Unknown said...

BTW, the picture of her was taken moments before I asked her to marry me.

zura said...

Wonderful story!

appelsj said...


Anonymous said...

You actually made me cry!..and we couldn't agree more with you.

(p.s. sorry I have been out of touch lately)

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful Mother's Day story and it was great to find another Chicago transplant to Montreal.