Looking at this photo from the 1931 Society of Beaux-Arts Architects Ball, we get the feeling that costumes were more…creative back then. The theme that year was “Fête Moderne – a Fantasie in Flame and Silver,” a celebration of the future of designing buildings. Appropriately, at least two dozen architects came as buildings that they had recently designed to exemplify their vision for the future.
From left to right: A. Stewart as the Fuller Building, Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria, Ely Jacques Khan as the Squibb BuildingWilliam Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, Ralph Walker as the Irving Trust Building, Arthur J.Arwine as a low pressure heating boiler, and Joseph Freelander as the Museum of the City of New York.
All six of the buildings, from the Chrysler Building, to the Waldorf Astoria and the Museum of the City of New York, are still prominent in New York City life today. Perhaps these costumes, and this indelible image, helped spread the buildings’ popularity. After all, they are pretty memorable, especially William van Alen’s Chrysler costume. (Towering headpiece aside, he is the only one in the photo that chose not to don the generic tunic worn by the others!).
The Beaux-Arts Ball is an ongoing annual event, held in New York by the Architectural League. Hopefully, they’ll do a similar dress-as-your-project theme sometime soon, because we’d love to see David Childs’s attempt at a One World Trade Center hat.
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