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February 5, 2013
If you are in New York City this week or next, stop by Brookfield Place in the World Financial Center Complex to celebrate design contest Canstruction's 20th anniversary. Twenty-five teams of architects, engineers, contractors, and students spent months constructing mammoth sculptures from unopened cans of food. The structures will be on view until February 11, after which they will be dismantled and the cans will be donated to City Harvest and distributed to those in need.

"deVAULTed to SHARE" by Cetraruddy.

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Weidlinger Associates' entry into the Canstruction competition.

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The Staten Island Eye by CH2M.

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cetraruddy devaulted to share 1

"deVAULTed to SHARE" by Cetraruddy.

We checked in with three of the teams to learn more:

Team: Cetraruddy

Years Participating: Three

Favorite Project (other than their own): The Jeff Koons Sculpture by WSP Flack + Kurtz and Gensler

Cetraruddy’s project, “deVAULTed to SHARE,” is an open vault based on their mission statement, “True generosity stems for a willingness to share.”

“We wanted to create something that was simple yet elegant—something that you can easily recognize purely by the form and materiality,” says the team. Using sweet peas, corn, and kale to construct the vault, and non-perishables collected during their intra-office food drive to “fill” it, the team members focused their design around providing nutritional meals. Magnets to hold the cans together vertically and wire tied around horizontal cans prevents rolling. This labor-intensive structure proved to be a design challenge that required round-the-clock work from the eight-person team.

Weidlinger Associates' entry into the Canstruction competition.

Team: Weidlinger Associates

Years Participating: Nine

Favorite Project (other than their own): CH2M Hill Yolle’s Staten Island “Eye” (Although they didn’t get to see the finished project)

Using 1,400 cans of Goya beans, vegetables, and fruit, the 2004 People’s Choice Award veterans made a dining table surrounded by four chairs. Calling their piece “Room for One More,” Weidlinger Associates wanted to emphasize the mission of Canstruction and the importance of sharing a meal at the dinner table. Although the chairs came together easily, it took several test-builds to finalize the design. To show off the resulting curve-shaped base and to make the design feel more inviting, the team positioned chairs at various angles.

ch2m hill yolles keeping an eye on hunger staten island

The Staten Island Eye by CH2M.

Team: CH2M Hill Yolles

Years Participating: Two

Favorite Project (other than their own): The Orange Peel

“Much of what our specialty design structure group does is always pushing the line of what’s possible and impossible with materials and design; we wanted a bigger challenge,” explain Erin Hyland and Milo Adams, senior consultant and structural engineer, respectively, and co-captains. They chose the theme “Keeping an Eye on Hunger—The Staten Island 'Eye'" both for its local angle and to demonstrate the structural challenge of a Ferris Wheel. After determining the dimensions and what type of cans would work best, Hyland and Adams chose food based on nutritional profiles. Sweet peas, tuna, and tomato soup made the final cut. “The finished structure is a sculpture that is whimsical, but with a serious attention to detail and engineering precision,” Hyland and Adams say.

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