Fantasy Arches for Mardi Gras! Galveston

The fantasy arches were commissioned by George and Cynthia Mitchell. This civic design project was modeled after temporary decorative arches constructed in 1881, when the city of Galveston hosted Saengerfest, a statewide, biennial singing contest. In 1985, seven noted architects were each invited to design a fantasy structure that, unlike most architectural problems, needed to meet one requirement only - express the exuberance of Mardi Gras! Galveston. The arches they created, each different from the others and each unusual, formed a series of colorful gateways spanning the streets of downtown Galveston. The arches were designed by Boone Powell, Cesar Pelli, Charles Moore, Gene Aubry, Helmut Jahn, Michael Graves and Stanley Tigerman. Graves.jpg (11550 bytes)
Michael Graves Arch

Boone Powell.jpg (7696 bytes)
Boone Powell Arch*

Charles Moore.jpg (7433 bytes)
Charles Moore Arch

Ceasar Pelli.jpg (6931 bytes)
Ceasar Pelli Arch

Gene Aubry.jpg (6075 bytes)
Eugene Aubry Arch*

Helmut Jahn.jpg (6411 bytes)
Helmut Jahn Arch*

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Stanley Tigerman Arch

The photographs are of the models prepared by each of the architects.

Michael Gaertner & Associates coordinated the construction of all arches and actually constructed four arches, of which the Boone Powell arch remains in front of The Tremont House hotel in Galveston. Every year, the Grand Night Parade of the Krewe of Momus passes through the Boone Powell arch as it approaches The Tremont House Masked Ball.

Mardi Gras! Galveston was first celebrated in 1985 to mark the grand opening of The Tremont House. The arches were erected for the 1986 celebration and the project captured national attention in 1987, when "Arches for Galveston," an exhibition of architectural renderings, photographs and models of the Galveston arches, was displayed at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum. In 1990, another arch joined those still standing when George and Cynthia Mitchell sponsored a nautical-theme arch designed by Aldo Rossi. Rossi created four red-and-white "lighthouses" with beacons.

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Aldo Rossi Arch*

Design highlights of the Arches

The arches became a focal point of the renaissance under way in Galveston, where landmark buildings were being restored and age-old traditions, such as Mardi Gras, revived. Originally created as temporary fantasy monuments to be dismantled after one month, the arches proved such a popular attraction that they were kept up for six months, and two of the original arches - those designed by Graves and Powell - remained until 1999 when the Graves arch was dismantled. As of today, only the Boone Powell arch remains standing today, and it is now being repaired.
This page last updated on 05/11/01