With 4 days left, Beaux Arts Ball loses venue

By Alice Haymond

Beaux Arts Ball, the annual College of Design event that is scheduled for Saturday night, lost its venue yesterday when an inspection revealed that the building did not meet city building codes.

Kristi Buchler, the director of the Beaux Arts Foundation this year, said she and her staff were expecting everything to run smoothly this week. All of their preparations had been made.

But at 1 p.m. yesterday, the Lexington Fire Department and Building Inspection told Buchler that the warehouse cannot house the event because it does not have a sprinkler system. The Beaux Arts Ball committee hopes to find a new venue today.

“Obviously this is sort of disastrous and not exactly the best situation,” said Buchler, an interior design senior. “We would rather not have to move it, but we wanted to work with the city … and we wanted to make sure everyone was safe as well.”

About a month ago, student organizers decided on the building, an old warehouse at 306 Hickory St., off Newtown Pike. It was the fourth venue they had looked at since they began planning in August, Buchler said.

Yesterday, the Beaux Arts committee members dismantled the stage on Hickory Street and hoped the buses that had been rented to provide transportation from Rupp Arena to that venue would be able to bring ball participants to the new location — wherever it may be.

The committee worked the rest of the day on finding a new location, and with the help of city officials, whom Buchler said have been supportive, she said they hope to make an arrangement by this afternoon.

The ball has brought thousands of people out in previous years to unlikely locations, including a parking garage, a horse sales barn and a tobacco warehouse.

“It’s a lot of people, and we always kind of want something a little underground,” Buchler said. “I mean, we can’t rent the banquette hall at the Hyatt.”

Buchler said students who were planning on attending should buy tickets and wait for more information about the new venue.

Tickets cost $20, and this year’s proceeds will go to the Hospital Hospitality House and Bluegrass Domestic Violence Shelter. If the event must be canceled, Buchler said the Beaux Arts Foundation would refund ticket costs.