You can’t throw a can of refried beans without hitting a can of tomato sauce in the Saks Fifth Avenue Wing of the North Star Mall. For the next two weeks, 11 creatively constructed “Canstructions” will stand as symbols of the San Antonio Food Bank’s fight against hunger in South Texas.
It’s the ninth annual Canstruction San Antonio competition when architects, engineers and builders converge on the mall and turn tens of thousands of food cans into artful, sometimes gravity-defying sculptures. Every last can – tons and tons of them – eventually goes into meal packages for South Texas families in need.
It’s art, it’s fun, it’s a competition, and once a year it stops us in our tracks and reminds us that thousands of families, many of them with children, do not get enough food to eat and rely on the San Antonio Food Bank and the generosity of the community to make ends meet.
Winning teams celebrate their work and the recognition won for their firms. The competition is friendly, but talented, committed people are playing to win. Starting in June, teams form and start designing their Canstructions – many using digital modeling software, sketches, and protocols that they would use when designing real-world structures. This is not an endeavor taken lightly.
Click here to vote for your favorite design for the People’s Choice Award.
There are rules that limit materials used to stabilize elaborate can stacks, and contestants are judged not only on their work, but its theme, the variety of canned foodstuffs used, and even the patterns and colors created by label positioning.
Orange is the color of hunger awareness, so there’s a special prize for best use of the color.
This year, Ford, Powell & Carson Architects with Pugh Constructors and Cleary Zimmermann Engineers took home the coveted Juror’s Favorite Award. A panel of seven local juror-judges ranked each submission. (Full Disclosure: Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard was a panel member.)
The winning design bears an uncanny resemblance to the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, embedded in a silver and black Spur – a concept that the panel of jurors couldn’t help but adore for its simple, yet impressive design, bold stature and, well, because Go Spurs Go.
The Structural Ingenuity Award went to Overland Partners‘ “Let Hunger Go,” a play on the popular Disney film, “Frozen,” its character “Olaf” the snowman, and its signature song, “Let it Go.”
The Best Use of Labels Award went to Alamo Architects and Turner Construction team’s “CANpions,” a cubic structure with intricate portraits of the “Big Three” — “Tuna Parker,” “Canu Ginobili,” and “Tin DunCAN” – and the Championship Trophy. With all images crafted with clever positioning of can labels, the effect was reminiscent of pointillism.
The Best Meal Award – that is, the structure with the most balanced meal represented – went to OCO LPA‘s “Yabba Dabba Candoo!!!” There, was however, one juror in disagreement. Di-Anna Arias, vice president of sales and culinary vision of Don Strange of Texas, could not get past the canned lasagna.
The Best Use of the Color Orange went to the Open Studio Architecture team, new to the competition this year, for its “Six Pack” of Orange Crush bottles.
The judges were allowed one honorable mention and it was ultimately given to the submission that was in a close battle for the Best Use of Labels Award. “Donkey Kan,” by H-E-B Design and Construction, was a monument to the pixellated Nintendo character that stood the tallest out of all the 2014 entries. One had to stand far back in order to see the gorilla take shape.
We invite readers to review all the entries and do their own judging. See the remaining submissions below the story and vote for the People’s Choice Award at Survey Monkey. The winner will be announced in two weeks, after voting closes at midnight on Sept. 21.
Can puns aside, the Canstruction efforts have a serious impact in more than 150 cities locally and globally. In 2013, Canstruction events across the world donated more than 4.7 million pounds of food serving 3.9 million meals to needy families. In nine years, Canstruction San Antonio has donated more than 375,095 cans of food to the San Antonio Food Bank.
The event is just one of the Food Bank’s SA Goes Orange for Hunger Campaign events during September, Hunger Action Month. While Thanksgiving and Christmas are times of seasonal generosity that benefit the Food Bank, OCO LPA architect Sara Flowers said that participating architectural and engineering firms learned about the Food Bank’s year-round struggle to feed an average of more than 58,000 people per week during a tour of the facilities.
“We heard about families not able to put healthy meals on their plates in summer months – children who don’t want to go home over Christmas break because they don’t have access to nutritious foods, and senior citizens who would often choose to feed their animals before feeding themselves,” said Flowers, who chairs the eight-member Canstruction committee.
“Those are the real faces of hunger and they are the ones who benefit from events like this,” she added, quoting her colleague, Adam Reed.
More than 500,000 Southwest people in our region are at risk of going hungry, according to statistics from the Food Bank.
“The net effect of this event in terms of creating awareness and tangible meals for those in need is incredible,” said Food Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Cooper, sporting a bright orange t-shirt and matching running shoes, his uniform while serving as unofficial panel foreman.
Visit the Food Bank’s website to find the “30 Days in 30 Ways” calendar for more opportunities to give, including happy hours, discounted admission to establishments with a can of food, and the upcoming “Oh, What A Night!” All sales made on Sept. 22 between 6 and 8 p.m. at any Bexar County Whataburger will be donated to the Food Bank that night.
This year’s judges included the aforementioned Cooper, Rivard and Arias as well as Director of Planning Operations and Development for Hemisfair Omar Gonzalez, local architect John Grable, Joeris General Contractors President Gary Joeris, and Whataburger Director of Design and Quality Assurance Joe Neely.
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