SA’s Design and Construction Community Unites to Fight Hunger with CANstruction

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The 14th edition of CANstruction is now on display at North Star Mall.

First launched in 1992 in New York, this amazing charity benefiting hunger relief efforts has spread across the United States and 30 countries. Worldwide, more than 10,000 volunteers participate every year. Locally, CANstruction has collected over a half a million pounds of food for the San Antonio Food Bank.

The 2019 edition of CANstruction will once again feature imaginative large-scale sculptures made entirely from canned food. Designed by six teams partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank, the Society for Design Administration (SDA) San Antonio Chapter, and AIA San Antonio, these unique works of art will be on display at North Star Mall through Saturday, Sept. 21.

The teams drew inspiration from popular movies, environmental issues, milestone anniversaries, and iconic local architecture, turning over 16,000 canned goods into unique works of art.

At the end of the exhibition, the cans will be collected and taken to the San Antonio Food Bank, where they will help feed the 58,000 families the food bank serves each week.

CANstruction is an official event of Hunger Action Month. Each year in September, the community dedicated to eliminating hunger spotlights the ongoing fight against hunger by asking businesses across the city to “Go Orange.” Buildings across the city will be illuminated in orange to raise awareness of hunger and food instability locally. Other Hunger Action Month events include the Restock the Shelves campaign, and Hunger Action Day on Sept. 13.

The design of each sculpture involves months of planning. Once teams select a theme, the next step is to select and source food cans whose labels will be integral to communicating the theme of the CANstruction. How to pay for those cans is yet another challenge for teams. The typical CANstruction sculpture uses canned goods valued at $3,000 or more.

This year, Broadway Bank joined the event as a sponsor for a friendly student team competition. Both student team entrants – the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Architecture, Construction, and Planning and San Antonio College’s architecture program – received a $2,500 fundraising boost courtesy of Broadway Bank. On opening night, a panel of judges from Broadway Bank selected San Antonio College’s Intergalactic Energy structure to be rebuilt at their Nacogdoches Road headquarters. The structure will stand as an invitation to their visiting patrons to make a donation of food or cash until Oct. 11, when the structure will be de-canstructed and sent to the food bank.

“Broadway Bank was a lifesaver for us. We would not have been able to participate without their support,” said Kelli Margozewitz, San Antonio College’s 2019 AIAS president. “They were there for us for us all the way – Broadway Bank didn’t just write a check, their employees provided hands on help unloading hundreds of pounds of canned food for our CANstruction.”

Preparation for the competition is equally rigorous.

Just as architects assemble a team of professionals for each of their projects, CANstruction also requires the participation of project partners from San Antonio’s engineering and construction community.

With an idea, teams then use design programs like Sketchup or Revit to model each type of can being used in the structure. That information helps with the final design and gives teams the ability to order the specific number of cans needed. Many teams practice building all or part of their designs to test the stability of their structures. On build day, team members rise early to haul thousands of food cans to the mall and construct their sculptures before stores open at noon.

Returning competitors Alamo Architects/Turner Construction won national CANstruction recognition with their impressive Spanish bullfighter Matahambre structure, winning 2018 International Best Original Design. Julie Serrato of Alamo Architects said, “We were very excited to get the national award and we are up for the challenge again this year!”

Judging the CANstruction entries is equally challenging. The entries are painstakingly evaluated by a panel of community leaders. This year’s judges included Dale Carse, H-E-B construction project leader; Adam Reed, AIA, principal at Ford Powell & Carson; Michael Buckley, FAIA, president of Halcyon Ltd.; Debbie O’Reilly, director at HelmsBriscoe; and Michael Guerra, chief development officer of the San Antonio Food Bank.

Awards are presented to CANstruction teams for structural ingenuity, the best use of labels, most original design, and even the most cans. Other award categories recognize the team whose CANstruction offers the best meal and the best use of the color orange. The most coveted of all awards is Best Original Design, which ensures not only a blue ribbon for the team, but also the opportunity to have their CANstruction rebuilt following the exhibition in the lobby of the San Antonio Food Bank.

The 2019 CANstruction award winners were announced at the CAN-Opener Gala, held at North Star Mall on Sept. 9, by Guerra.

Awards:

  • Best Original Design: Hakuna Matata – No Hunger for the Rest of your Days – RVK Architects, F.A. Nunnelly, & Lunde Franke Engineers
  • Structural Ingenuity: Under the Seafood – Alamo Architects and Turner Construction
  • Best Meal: Mission to End Hunger – Rogers O’Brien Construction
  • Best Use of Labels: Intergalactic Energy – San Antonio College Architecture Program
  • Most Cans: Mission to End Hunger – Rogers O’Brien Construction
  • Best Use of Orange: Blast Hunger Out of This World – RS&H Inc.

The winner of Best Original Design, RVK Architects, will have their sculpture rebuilt at the SA Food Bank to be displayed for the year. All entries are also submitted to the International CANstruction Competition.

Visitors to the mall may view the sculptures and vote for the People’s Choice award through Sept. 21. The winner will be announced in the Rivard Report on Sept. 26.

Thank you to all our CANstruction teams, the many sponsors who annually support this event, and finally to SA Food Bank, AIA San Antonio, and SDA San Antonio for their many years coordinating and supporting San Antonio’s CANstruction competition.

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