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City and Penn luminaries are expected to attend the Beaux Arts Ball, held annually in an unfinished building. A construction site is rarely considered the ideal venue for an elaborate party, but more than 3,500 people are expected to pack the incomplete part of Sansom Common at the 17th-annual Beaux Arts Ball tomorrow. The black-tie ball, thrown by the city Foundation for Architecture every year in an unfinished building in Philadelphia, will be held on the first and second floors of the still-under-construction part of Sansom Common between 36th and 37th streets. Dozens of University and city luminaries are scheduled to attend. "The party is a way to welcome to the city a great new building and to have a celebration the whole city can participate in," said John Higgins, the executive director of the Foundation for Architecture. Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, University President Judith Rodin and Penn Executive Vice President John Fry are among those currently planning to attend the event. The theme of the affair is "Site and Sounds of the Silver Screen: Shimmer on Sansom." Entry costs $250 for the entire event, while attending only the after-dinner party costs $75 in advance and $85 at the door. Proceeds benefit the education programs run by the foundation. The party will be held in the section of the University retail-and-hotel complex housing the building's second construction phase, which is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 1999. It will hold the Inn at Penn, two retailers and a restaurant. The first phase of the complex includes the Penn Bookstore, Xando coffeehouse-bar and Urban Outfitters clothing as well as Eastern Mountain Sports and Parfumerie Douglas cosmetics, which are scheduled to open within the next month. The party will start with cocktails and dinner at 6:30 p.m. and continue with the ball from 9:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. At midnight, there will be a parade featuring those partygoers who decide to dress in costume. Prizes, including a trip for two to Rome and a full set of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed plates from Tiffany's, will be awarded for the best costumes. Higgins said that he and other foundation officials have been planning the ball for nine months, but 30 to 40 people began busily preparing the site yesterday. In recent years, the ball has been held at the Apollo at Temple University, the Naval Base, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel.

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