Photo by Ally Stone

Last Friday, March 29, at the Hinman Research Building, the “Archies” took a night off of studio for the biennial Beaux Arts Ball. The costume ball originated in 19th century Paris with ornately designed floats judged by design critics. The event usually starts with a charrette, or design competition among graduate and undergraduate studios throughout the school, based on a theme. After the charrette at the arts ball, teams exhibit their designs in a fun social setting. Usually architects dress up as the buildings they designed. This tradition has been a part of the School of Architecture since 1908. Hosted by the Georgia Tech American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) chapter and the Georgia Tech School of Architecture, the night included food, drinks, music, a chorale performance, a fashion show and of course, dancing. This year’s theme was “Metamorphosis: Each Epoch Dreams the One to Follow,” highlighting architecture’s ever-evolving and self-foreshadowing nature.

Usually architects dress up as the buildings they designed

Though the ball focused primarily on architecture designs by ARCH students at Tech, the event was open to the public, giving people of different backgrounds and students at large a chance to tap into their creative inner soul. Guests were adorned in cocktail style attire and were invited to wear masks or any other form of attire that supported their view of metamorphosis.

The President of AIAS, Natasha Sanjaya, said of the event, “People find it hard to understand the Beaux Arts Ball – people who’ve never experienced it and people outside of architecture. But to summarize, the Beaux Arts Ball is an opportunity to be a significant part of architecture culture and to truly experience the dynamic of the student-faculty professional relationship within a school. And it’s an event completely different from any other schools on campus.”

In concurrence with this statement, Jessie Hughes, Vice President of AIAS, stated, “The Beaux Arts Ball is more than just a two day design competition, finishing up with an architecture party (I like to call it an “archiparty”). It’s a way to engage meaningfully in a design challenge with your professors outside of typical studio work. And it’s a way to remind ourselves of why we chose this major, which can admittedly be brutal at times, despite the opportunities we have to let the creative juices flow. It’s an opportunity to pause and realize that it’s all worth it, really. Engineers could probably have a lot of fun with an event like this made just for them.”

The event started with casual mingling and food munching, as the studios were getting ready for the fashion show. Before a short performance by the School of Architecture Chorale, the Dean of the School gave an introduction to the theme of the evening. Shortly after, the fashion show itself finally commenced, and each studio varied greatly with their interpretation of “metamorphosis.” A previously chosen song also accompanied the elaborate designs, providing an even greater opportunity for all involved to practice artistic expression.

It’s a way to remind ourselves of why we chose this major

Showcasing a more literal interpretation of metamorphosis, with the physical change of animals and insects, two studio interpretations included a physical manifestation of a design program called Grasshopper to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” and a giant moving cockroach. Two girls from a sophomore studio dressed in outfits made of Starbucks cups that were connected in the middle and intertwined with lights. Another studio included a woodland goddess with her semi-creepy masked worshippers. And lastly, a brief surprise advertisement charrette performance, modeling the famous “Old Spice” commercial, added humor to the already entertaining show.

The winner of the fashion show was the studio of Judy Gordon and Tim Harrison, who treated the audience to a performance involving phone book pages taped into cone blankets and a very scared life-size banana that emerged from the center.

After the fashion show, the tense atmosphere of excitement that often comes hand-in-hand with artistic expression became relaxed and loose with a musical performance by a local band and DJ afterwards. With the decidedly more thought-provoking part of the evening over, professors , students and other attendees let loose to their inner rhythms and danced into the night together, ending yet another successful Beaux Arts Ball.