Combine a semester of stress, the promise of summer, a theme and about 300 architecture students, and you’ve got Beaux Arts Ball.
A tradition of the University’s School of Architecture, each semester the Beaux Arts Ball fills one local venue with some of the most colorful minds on campus for a night of dancing, debauchery and elaborate costumes. The end-of-term celebration aims to bring together students and faculty alike in the name of history and camaraderie.
Fourth-year architecture student Andrew Pharis, who serves as president of the University’s chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students, has overseen the planning of the event, which will be this Saturday at Mud and Water.
“It’s something that happens every year, and it’s something that everybody always looks forward to,” Pharis said. “It’s better than prom.”
Pharis and his fellow architecture students have spent months planning the bash, a feat that includes handmade, mustache-shaped tickets and decorations laser-cut in the University’s own architecture studios to resemble chandeliers. All this is designed to follow this semester’s Beaux Arts Ball theme: Paris in the 1920s.
“The Art Deco movement started in Paris in 1925, and also surrealism was happening, so Salvador Dali and Picasso and all of those great surrealist and cubist paintings were ‘Paris in the 1920s,’” Pharis said of the chosen theme. “It was a great time for art and architecture and music.”
Beaux Arts Ball is closer to a rave than an art history lesson, however, and Pharis said the party gets “kinda crazy” as the evening goes on and the DJ keeps spinning. Third-year architecture student and AIAS vice president Marcelle Carmouche said this year’s theme will give creative minds in the architecture and design programs plenty of inspiration.
“There’ll be people dressed up in fancy 1920s attire, and then there’ll be people dressed up in crazy surrealism and cubism costumes, which is really exciting,” Carmouche said.
According to Carmouche, some of the more adventurous students have plans to paint and embellish their own faces and bodies to represent cubism and surrealism in real life. Bringing out the best of design students at the end of the semester is one of the most important parts of the tradition.
“We are pretty much stuck in our studio all year, and so this is a great time to get out of the studio and have fun with each other,” Pharis said. “Even though it’s right before finals and it’s crunch time, we could use a break.”
As members of the School of Architecture and related design schools turn out en masse for the extravaganza, AIAS officers look forward to putting the crowds to good use.
“We want to get as many people there as we can,” Carmouche said. “We usually have a good turnout, but this year we’re donating part of the proceeds to the American Heart Association, so if we raise a lot of money to give to them, it’d be nice.”
Though Beaux Arts Ball usually raises money for charity, this year AIAS chose the American Heart Association in particular to honor a member of the University’s architecture family — Jack Ford, an adjunct architecture professor, who died of a heart attack in December.
Ford’s legacy marks another way the Beaux Arts Ball combines party with history: The name “Beaux Arts” itself comes from Beaux-Arts architecture, a style taught for hundreds of years in Paris.