Tenderness at the Beaux Arts Ball

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Since its launch in 1913 by the Society of Beaux Arts Architects as “the most artistic entertainment of the kind ever given in New York,” the Beaux Arts Ball in New York City has provided unique themed environments not to be missed by the beau monde. This year’s theme was “tender” and two businesses took their ideas to the bank—the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank in Brooklyn—where they installed a ceiling display of Mylar, chairs made of shredded paper and a vault wired for sound.

The Architectural League of New York (which co-opted the Ball in 1990) commissioned New York City architectural firms SOFTlab and Pentagram to create the tender ambience. “It was the malleability of the word ‘tender’ that hooked us,” says SOFTlab’s Michael Szivos. Thin netting illuminated in blue held silvery Mylar inflatables on the ceiling of the 63-foot-high main hall, from which dangled small glimmering cards that turned out to be tickets to the special vault exhibit. The vault-cum-lounge area, filled with sack-like bolsters of netting and shredded paper, featured a sound installation of clanging stock-exchange bells, jingling coins and the whisper of fluttering dollar bills. The party atmosphere helped raise $125,000 (in soft money?) for Architectural League programs. For more money shots, visit the Architectural League website.

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