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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“UA students, alumni build canned food art”

Cans of food were sorted, stacked and made into unique structures by local architects, current UA students and alumni with backgrounds in architecture and engineering for the Canstruction charity event.

More than 6,000 cans were used to build the structures on Saturday at the Tucson Museum of Art.

The American Institute of Architects held the event in conjunction with the Society for Design Administration.  The AIA is treating Canstruction as the kick off for architecture week, which started Friday and ends Oct. 3.

“”It’s a series of events and lectures that we organize to establish public outreach to allow the architects of the community to reach out to everybody to talk about what we’re doing, what we’re working on and how architects actually help people in our everyday lives,”” said Patrick Bradley, a recent graduate of the College of Architecture. “”We will be donating the several thousand cans used in the competition to the Tucson Community Food Bank to help fight hunger in southern Arizona.””

Canstruction is a design and building competition between teams who work in architecture and engineering.  The event began almost two decades ago and now there are more than 140 Canstruction competitions scheduled to take place this year.  

Since it is Canstruction’s first year in Tucson, the only category that will be awarded will be the people’s choice, which is chosen by voters who visit the exhibit. The winning team’s entry will be submitted into a national competition.

The three teams worked from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. to build large-scale sculptures made exclusively out of canned food.  The team of local professional architects used more than 2,000 cans to create a 7-foot tall structure of a heart that was inspired by the museum.

“”There is a work of art that is a heart shape so Rob Paulus pulled the installation from the Douglas Nielsen exhibit to create this heart,”” Bradley said. “”We are going to touch on that when we do the plaque explaining that we are trying to relate to the museum and talk about how construction fits into the community.””

During the competition, the teams can only use cardboard and plywood for stacking and tape to hold cans in place. Gluing and painting the cans is not permitted.

“”You work with the labels. You can’t modify the labels because the food bank needs to know what’s in the cans. That’s the challenge, but also the cool part of it,”” Bradley said. “”You need to know what type of can you are using for the dimensions and how you are going to stack them but also what kind of labels you are working with for the different kind of ideas you want to have in the installation.””

The team of current architecture students built a sculpture called “”Can O’ Worms.””

“”We went to the grocery store and took pictures of all the cans in order to figure out what we needed,”” Heather McWilliams, the project manager for the team of architecture students, said. “”Our cans were donated by Fry’s so we had to use Fry’s brand cans … We were actually really lucky and all the funding was taken care of.””

The Fry’s Food and Drug Store in Oro Valley donated 2,400 cans that were divided up among the three teams.

The third team, comprised of UA alumni, built a sculpture in the shape of a mustache in support of “”Movember,”” organization where men grow mustaches during the month of November to promote awareness of testicular and prostate cancer.

“”The hardest part of Canstruction was going through all the cans and doing inventory,”” said Jeff Hunt, a recent graduate of the UA college of engineering.

His team stayed up all night counting and organizing approximately 3,500 cans in order to build their structure.

All three installments can be viewed at the Tucson Museum of Art until Friday, Oct. 1, free of charge.  Visitors are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to the museum to contribute to the charity event.

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