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When Architects Dress Like Buildings

The 1931 Beaux-Arts Ball immortalized the architects who participated by dressed like famous buildings. Will a 2019 version of the event achieve a contemporary version of the same fame?
October 31, 2019, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Skyscrapers and Architects
American Institute of Architects

Blair Kamin reports: "Evoking a celebrated 1930s ball where architects dressed as likenesses of their skyscrapers, a Chicago-based group reprised the event Wednesday night, holding a costume contest that was won by an outfit that turned Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers into back-to-the-future jetpacks."

The event was hosted by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which also recently released its list of 50 most influential buildings of the last 50 years.

"The event was calculated to elicit comparisons with the 1931 Beaux-Arts Ball, which was held in New York City and is still remembered for a photograph of seven architects dressed as their buildings. The star of that group was William Van Alen, architect of the Chrysler Building, who wore a crown of sunbursts like those on his Art Deco skyscraper as well as a Buck Rogers-style cloak and boots," according to Kamin.

Kamin has the photos and the archive to draw out interesting comparisons between the seven finalists in the contest in 1931 and the seven finalists in 2019. One big difference: there were women on the stage this time around.

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